Rodney Benson of Department of Media, Culture, and Communication Wins Tankard Book Award

Rodney Benson has been awarded the 2014 Tankard Book Award by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) at its annual meeting in Montréal.

Benson is an associate professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication and an affiliated faculty member of NYU;s Department of Sociology. He holds a PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Benson’s book, Shaping Immigration News: A French-American Comparison, received the Tankard Award to honor scholarship that, according to AEJMC, “breaks new ground in the field of journalism and mass communication” research.

The book, published in 2013 by Cambridge University Press, compares immigration news coverage in the U.S. and France from the early 1970s through the 2000s, drawing on detailed text and image analysis and nearly 100 interviews with journalists in Paris, Los Angeles, and New York. Benson uses the comparative case study to draw broader conclusions about journalistic practices and performance in the two countries. According to Cambridge University Press’s description of the book, 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 has already received praise from a range of leading sociologists and media scholars.

Silvio Waisbord of George Washington University writes: “Benson has amassed powerful evidence showing why globalization does not make journalism homogeneous across borders…This book should be of interest to scholars interested in understanding the possibility for multiperspectival and critical journalism in democratic societies, as well as continuities and changes in fluid news systems. Benson has produced a sophisticated, elegant, and evidence-packed cross-national analysis that will be a go-to reference for comparative media research.”

Paul DiMaggio of Princeton University writes: “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.”

AEJMC, the national association of journalism and mass communication scholars and media professionals, established the Tankard Book Award in 2007 in honor of communication scholar James W. Tankard, Jr.