Saturday, November 15, 2008

Immigration and the media

The Brookings Institution has released an interesting study entitled, "A Report on the Media and the Immigration Debate." Its core finding is that the media, but especially new media, has been a major contributor to policy stalemate. Some key conclusions:

  • The media is crisis-driven, so the bulk of the attention is negative
  • Especially with the rise of talk radio, bloggers, etc. the opposing sides are very loud, while the middle (which favors a mix of policy options) has little voice. Part of their conclusion is that traditional newspapers handled the issue better, so that in the past compromise was more possible. I'm not sure I buy this causality, but it's an argument worth contemplating.
  • Thus, the public debate centers on extreme policy options (e.g. kicking out all undocumented immigrants) that will never be enacted
  • The narrative focuses on immigrants themselves, and very rarely the broader forces that bring them to the United States, so the bigger picture is rarely presented
Money quote: "The breathless, on-and-off coverage--more opera than ooze--has mischaracterized a massive demographic event that has developed over decades and mostly through legal channels. And at the same time, it has helped create contours in public opinion that have rendered the enactment of new immigration policies ever more elusive" (p. ix).


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP