This study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) and Pew Hispanic Center (PHC) analyzed news coverage of Hispanics during a six month time period, February 9 – August 9, 2009. The analysis is based on coding conducted as a part of PEJ’s weekly News Coverage Index (NCI).

During this period, PEJ researchers coded 34,452 stories as a part of the NCI. These stories span across five media sectors, including newspapers, online, network TV, cable TV, and radio. The universe of stories was coded by a team made up of 17 trained coders, a coding administrator, and a senior research methodologist. Read the complete methodology of the NCI.

In addition to the main variables that are a regular part of the NCI, we added variables to track significant mentions of four separate demographic groups. We began coding for significant mentions of Hispanics, Africans and African Americans on February 9 and Asians and Muslims on February 16, 2009.

The Universe

PEJ monitors 55 different news outlets each week Monday–Friday, and Sunday newspapers, including:

  • Newspapers: A rotating group of seven newspapers a day, ranging from the Anniston Star and San Jose Mercury News to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, USA Today, Washington Post, and New York Times. All stories on the front page with a national or international focus are captured and coded.
  • Broadcast network television evening news shows: The entirety of ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS’s Evening News, and NBC’s Nightly News are captured and coded every weekday. A half hour of every episode of PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer was captured and coded, with coding alternating between the first and the second half-hour of the show.
  • Broadcast network television morning news shows: Every Monday to Friday the first 30 minutes of ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’s Early Show, and NBC’s Today show were captured and coded.
  • Daytime cable news: Every weekday, a half-hour of news between 2-2:30 p.m. EST from two of the following channels was recorded and coded:  CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.
  • Evening cable news: Every weekday, the first half-hour of a rotating schedule of six news programs from CNN, Fox and MSNBC were recorded and coded, ranging from CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight and Anderson Cooper 360, to Fox News’s O’Reilly Factor and Hannity to MSNBC’s Hardball and Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
  • Radio news headlines: Twice a day (at 9 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. every Monday to Friday), all news headlines from ABC and CBS radio were captured and coded, as was a half-hour of NPR’s Morning Edition, with coding alternating between the first half-hour of the first hour, and the first half-hour of the second hour.
  • Talk radio: Every day, the first half-hour of a rotating selection of two or three different talk shows was recorded and coded, ranging from Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage to Ed Schultz and Randi Rhodes.
  • Online news: Once a day (Monday to Friday and alternating between 9 a.m and 4 p.m.), the top five stories on a rotating schedule of the following news sites were captured and coded:, Yahoo News,, Google News,,,, AOL News,,, BBC News (international version), and

Tracking Demographic Groups

In order to track stories in which certain demographic groups had a significant presence, PEJ devised a comprehensive set of rules.

Significant Mention

  • To be considered a significant part of the story, 25% of a story needed to be about that demographic group and its race/ethnicity/religion.
  • The race/ethnicity/religion needed to be explicitly stated.  If a person was pictured or named without his/her race stated explicitly, that story was not coded. This rule applied even if one might assume/guess their ethnicity from the picture or name.
  • Stories about foreign governments, businesses, etc. were not be coded unless they referred to how those governments/business are affecting one of the groups of people below.
  • A story could be about multiple demographic groups. For example: Asian and Hispanic could both be selected if the story was 25% or more about Asians and 25% or more about Hispanics.
  • Any person, group or organization referred to using the term “name of country + American” or “name of region + American” were coded for this variable if they are in 25% of the story.
  • For example: Mexican American, Asian American, etc. would be coded if that person satisfied the 25% rule in the story.
  • Any person, group or organization referred to by their nationality only was coded for this variable if they were 25% of the story.
  • For example: A person or group referred to only as Peruvian, Kenyan, Chinese, etc. would be coded for that ethnic/ demographic group.
  • The full list of terms and nationalities for each groups are listed below.

I. Hispanic Presence

Definition: This applies to stories that are 25% or more about a Hispanic person, group or organization.


  • Argentinian
  • Belize
  • Bolivian
  • Brazilian
  • Chilea
  • Colombian
  • Costa Rican
  • Cuban
  • Dominican
  • Ecuadorian
  • El Salvadoran
  • Guatemalan
  • Honduran
  • Mexican
  • Nicaraguan
  • Panamanian
  • Paraguayan
  • Peruvian
  • Portuguese
  • Puerto Rican
  • Spanish (not language)
  • Uruguayan
  • Venezuelan            
  • Mexican/Mexicana
  • Mestizo/Mestiza (mixed race)
  • Mexican American
  • Spanish/Spaniard
  • Puerto Rican
  • Latin/Latino/Latina
  • Indian (Only if Latin American indigenous heritage)
  • Chicano/Chicana
  • CubanDominican
  • Mulatto/Mulatta
  • Moreno/Morena

II. African/ African-American Presence (excluding Obama)

Definition: This applies to stories that are 25% or more about an African American/African person, people or organization.                             


  • African American
  • Black
  • African

ALL countries (with only one exception, see below) on the continent of Africa, including those in North Africa, are automatically considered as African, i.e.:

  • Algeria
  • Congo
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Libya
  • Mali
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Tunisia
  • Zimbabwe
  • etc

The islands of the Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritania are also African.

The exception is Egypt: for Egypt to be considered as African under this variable, the story must explicitly mention Egypt, Egyptians or Egyptian organizations as African – such stories are likely to be rare.

III. Asian/ Asian-American Presence

This applies to stories that are 25% or more about an Asian person, people or organization.                         


  • Asian
  • Asian American
  • Asian American Pacific Islander
  • Pacific Islander
  • Hawaiian

Certain ethnicities are automatically considered Asian if their country of origin is mentioned. These ethnicities and nationalities are:

  • Burmese (Myanmar)
  • Cambodian
  •     Chinese
  •     Filipino (Philippines)
  •     Indian
  •     Indonesian
  •     Japanese
  •     Korean
  •     Malaysian
  •     Pakistani
  •     Taiwanese
  •     Thai
  •     Tibetan
  •     Vietnamese

Other ethnicities are sometimes considered Asian, but sometimes considered as part of a different group. For these ethnicities, there must be something explicit in the story linking them with an Asian culture or ethnicity. These include ethnicities/countries such as:

  • Afghans
  • Armenians
  • Georgians (Republic of Georgia)
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan

IV. Muslim Presence

This applies to stories that are 25% or more about a Muslim person, people or organization.

TERMS TO CODE FOR (Include but not limited to):

  • Muslim
  • Islamic
  • Islamist

The religious identity of certain groups and organizations can be assumed. These groups and organizations include:

  • Al Qaeda
  • Hamas
  • Hezbollah