My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘Mas Sabe el Diablo’

Are 13.5 million bilingual forms enough for America?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

In the below report, the AP discusses the ongoing efforts of the Census Bureau to integrate bilingual measures into the decennial headcount. However, as we wrote yesterday, many government leaders in California feel that these efforts don’t go far enough to reach the millions of Americans who don’t speak English:

LONG BEACH, Calif. — When Teresa Ocampo opens her census questionnaire, she won’t have to worry about navigating another document in English.

The 40-year old housewife who only speaks basic English will be able to fill hers out in Spanish — which is exactly what U.S. officials were banking on when they decided to mail out millions of bilingual questionnaires next year.

For the first time, the decennial census will be distributed in the two languages to 13.5 million households in predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhoods. Latino advocates hope the forms will lead to a more accurate count by winning over the trust of immigrants who are often wary of government and may be even more fearful after the recent surge in immigration raids and deportations.

“If the government is reaching out to you in a language you understand, it helps build trust,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “I think the community has become really sensitive to political developments, and the census is the next step in this movement that we’re seeing of civic engagement in the Latino community.”

Traditionally, experts say, the Census Bureau has undercounted minority and immigrant communities, who are harder to reach because of language barriers and distrust of government.

Latino advocates hope the bilingual forms will help show their strength in numbers to underscore their growing political influence and garner more in federal funds that are determined by population.

Census officials say they designed the bilingual forms after extensive research, using the Canadian census questionnaire as an example. Over a six-year testing period, officials said the forms drew a better response in Spanish-speaking areas.

The bilingual forms will be mailed out to neighborhoods where at least a fifth of households report speaking primarily Spanish and little English, said Adrienne Oneto, assistant division chief for content and outreach at the Census Bureau in Washington. The cost of preparing and mailing the bilingual questionnaires is about $26 million, which is more than it would have cost to send only English forms.

More than a quarter of the forms will be distributed in California from Fresno to the Mexican border, with Los Angeles County topping the list. The Miami and Houston areas will also receive sizable numbers of the questionnaires.

Automatic mailing of the bilingual forms debuts in 2010. In addition to Spanish, census forms will be made available in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian upon request. That’s similar to the 2000 census, when participants could request questionnaires in several languages.

But none of those other languages compares to the proliferation of Spanish. Roughly 34 million people reported speaking Spanish at home in the United States in 2007, more than all the other languages combined except English. Eighty percent of the U.S. population reported speaking only English at home.

The question is whether the bilingual forms will help overcome immigrant fears of federal authorities after seeing friends and family swept up in immigration raids over the last few years. While census data is confidential, many immigrants are wary of any interaction with the government.

“It is a difficult time for immigrants and I could see where there might be concern where being counted might lead to future negative consequences,” said Clara E. Rodriguez, professor of sociology at Fordham University in New York.

There are also concerns that the recession has dried up funding used to encourage people to fill out their census forms.

California, for example, pumped $24.7 million in 2000 into efforts to boost the state’s count but has only $2 million budgeted for the upcoming year, said Ditas Katague, the state’s 2010 census director.

The Census Bureau has worked with Spanish-language TV giant Telemundo to help get the word out. The network’s telenovela “Mas Sabe el Diablo” (The Devil Knows Best) will feature a character who applies to be a census worker.

Adding to the challenge of getting more people to participate is a boycott of the census called by Latino Christian leaders. They want illegal immigrants to abstain from filling out the forms to pressure communities that depend on their numbers to support immigration reform.

Census officials say they don’t expect a backlash from English speakers because those likely to receive bilingual forms are used to hearing the two languages side by side.

Art Mirrors Life at Telemundo

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Attention Census Bureau employees: Get your Tivos ready, because if you speak Spanish, you may soon find a character on television whom you can relate to.  As The New York Times reports, the joys and pains of working for the Census Bureau will be chronicled from the perspective of a character on the Spanish-language telenovela “Mas Sabe el Diablo” who works for the 2010 Census. Here’s the full story:

Upfronts: Telemundo Talks Up Branded Entertainment

Executives of Telemundo, specializing in Spanish-language programming, gave an upbeat presentation on Monday morning to kick off the 2009-10 upfront week.

Although “this is a challenging time for everybody,” acknowledged Don Browne, president at Telemundo, part of the NBC Universal unit of General Electric, “it’s a good time to be in the Hispanic media business, because it’s growing, and it’s growing fast.”

The Telemundo presentation was focused on the advantage that its flagship Telemundo broadcast network has over its larger rival, the Univision network owned by Univision Communications. Telemundo carries programs that are produced for Telemundo, while Univision carries programs produced overseas, by the Mexican TV giant Televisa.

“We offer the best value proposition,” said Michael Rodriguez, senior vice president for sales at Telemundo, because advertisers can arrange for their products and brands to be integrated into Telemundo programs as they are produced. He gave examples like the Chevrolet Malibu sold by General Motors and the Pantene line of hair-care products sold by Procter & Gamble.

A major integration coming up on a Telemundo show is not a paid placement for an advertiser. Beginning next Monday on the telenovela “Mas Sabe el Diablo,” loosely translated as “The Devil Knows More,” “we are going to write in a Census theme and character,” Mr. Browne said. “The character will actually work for the Census Bureau.”

The federal government will get the freebie plugs for the 2010 Census because “it’s part of our Constitution,” Mr. Browne said, “and it should be done correctly.”

“It’s also good for business,” he added, referring to the fact that the results of the 2000 Census, which showed significant growth for the Hispanic population, fueled significant growth in advertising sales for the Spanish-language TV networks.

The presentation was an informal one, because Telemundo discontinued its big upfront week shows after May 2007.

Among the new series described to reporters for the 2009-10 season was “El Clon,” or “The Clone,” which was appropriate because other shows came across as clones of popular English-language content. Among them are “Perro Amor,” which evoked the movie “Cruel Intentions,” and “Ninos Ricos, Pobres Padres,” which evoked the CW TV series “Gossip Girl.”