Rodney Benson's latest work, Shaping Immigration News, is now available from Cambridge University Press.
Drawing on interviews with leading journalists and analyses of an extensive sample of newspaper and television coverage since the early 1970s, Benson shows how the immigration debate has become increasingly focused on the dramatic, emotion-laden frames of humanitarianism and public order. Yet even in an era of global hypercommercialism, Benson also finds enduring French-American differences related to the distinctive societal positions, professional logics, and internal structures of their journalistic fields. In both countries, less commercialized media tend to offer the most in-depth, multi-perspective, and critical news. Benson challenges classic liberalism's assumptions about state intervention's chilling effects on the press, suggests costs as well as benefits to the current vogue in personalized narrative news, and calls attention to journalistic practices that can help empower civil society.
“Shaping Immigration News uses one of the most salient and challenging issues facing contemporary democracies – immigration – as a lens through which to examine that critically important democratic institution, the press. Comparing the experiences of France and the United States for explanatory leverage, the author of this fine book identifies and tracks the prevalence of alternative frames and authorized spokespersons in immigration news over four decades – and in so doing demonstrates how institutional differences in the journalistic field refract coverage of events and debates in striking and often unanticipated ways.”
– Paul DiMaggio, Princeton University