The role of television as a means of communicating essential social service information to Spanish -speaking Hispanic immigrants
Spanish-speaking Hispanic immigrants often face linguistic and cultural barriers that prevent them from successfully participating in U.S. social service systems. Generally, institutions disseminate information in written form that is often incomprehensible to immigrants with low literacy levels. Television is a medium that has the potential to serve as an effective message delivery system for this population. However, there is limited research investigating television as an effective means to deliver social service information to Spanish-speaking Hispanic immigrants. This mixed methods study explored the use of television as a means to deliver social service information to this diverse group. The study represents the evaluation component of the action research initiative, Succeeding in the United States, which consisted of six 1-hour Spanish-language television programs that delivered essential social service information to Spanish-speaking Hispanic immigrants residing in Kansas City, Missouri.
Data were collected in a sequential manner. Results from interviews conducted with 28 social service experts and Spanish-speaking Hispanic immigrants identified communication characteristics in the source, message, and channel components of a televised informational program that would enhance its effectiveness for Spanish-speaking Hispanic viewers. Culture, language, personal attributes, professionalism, channel type, organization, format, content, and scheduling emerged as salient characteristics. Data from these interviews were used to create an evaluation measure that consisted of 10 Likert-type statements that assessed the success of Succeeding in the United States in incorporating these communication characteristics into each program.
This instrument also gathered qualitative data that revealed how the target audience would use information gleaned from the programs to build social capital within the host culture.
Data generated from 160 Spanish-speaking Hispanic immigrant viewers indicated that the majority of programs in Succeeding in the United States successfully included the communication characteristics identified by the expert interviews. Participant responses were compatible with the notions of building social capital within communities and included participation, information sharing, knowledge, and trust. Results of this inquiry demonstrated that television programs successfully delivered social service information and enhanced social capital for some immigrant viewers. Findings might serve as a framework for planning future communication campaigns that include informational Spanish-language television programs.
Minority & ethnic groups;
0282: Multicultural education
0631: Minority & ethnic groups
0708: Mass media
0723: Information systems
0452: Social work
0710: Educational software