updated 6/13/2006 7:26:47 PM ET 2006-06-13T23:26:47

A study commissioned by a Hispanic journalists association has found that the three main newsweekly magazines ran very few stories about Hispanics last year despite the growing importance of the Latino population.

The five-month study, due to be released Wednesday, found that only 18, or 1.2 percent, of the 1,547 stories that appeared last year in Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report were predominantly about Latinos.

Joseph Torres, deputy director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, which commissioned the study, said the coverage of Hispanics tended to focus on immigration despite the fact that most are U.S.-born. Of the 18 stories that were mainly about Latinos, 12 focused on immigration, the study found.

In those stories, Latinos were often portrayed as a “disruptive force” to U.S. society, Torres said. “That falls into a stereotypical pattern,” he said, and “creates a false impression of the contributions Latinos are making to society.”

Torres did say that the study, which was conducted by researchers at Arizona State University, noted that both Time and Newsweek devoted cover stories to Hispanics last year, with Time listing the 25 most influential Hispanics in America and Newsweek chronicling a “Latin Power Surge” following the election of Antonio Villaraigosa as mayor of Los Angeles.

“We praised them for that” in the study, Torres said of the twin cover stories on Hispanics. “Often there are too few of those stories. ... Outside of immigration, the coverage was much better.”

Time: ‘We welcome the feedback’
“This report raises important issues,” Steve Koepp, deputy managing editor of Time, said in a statement. “We welcome the feedback and are glad to see our cover story on the 25 most influential Hispanics commended for its broad representation of Hispanics in America. With that story and our recent cover on America’s Secret Work Force, our goal is to look past the cultural stereotypes. “

Donna Dees, a spokeswoman for U.S. News & World Report, said in a statement that the magazine’s mission was “to help readers of all backgrounds make sense of the week’s news events.” She also noted that the report found that nearly 80 percent of the magazine’s stories mentioning Latinos were not predominantly about Latinos. “Interviewees for articles are selected to represent the diversity of this country’s ethnic makeup.”

The editor of Newsweek magazine, Mark Whitaker, was traveling and couldn’t be reached for comment, a spokeswoman said.

The Hispanic journalists’ association has long produced a separate report on coverage of Hispanics on national network TV news, which has similarly found that only about 1 percent of those stories focus on Latinos.

Torres said his organization planned to do a similar study of newsmagazine coverage next year and again in following years. He said he hoped this year’s findings would serve as a “baseline” for future studies.

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