This book offers a comprehensive portrait of French and American journalists in action as they grapple with how to report and comment on one of the most important issues of our era. Drawing on interviews with leading journalists and analyses of an extensive sample of newspaper and television coverage since the early 1970s, Rodney Benson shows how the immigration debate has become increasingly focused on the dramatic, emotion-laden frames of humanitarianism and public order. 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. This book offers new theories and methods for sociologists and media scholars and fresh insights for journalists, policy makers and concerned citizens.
Rodney Benson is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, and an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Sociology, at New York University. Benson's research lies at the intersection of the sociology of culture, comparative media systems, political communication and journalism studies. His numerous articles have been published in such leading journals as the American Sociological Review, the Journal of Communication, the European Journal of Communication, Press/Politics, and Political Communication, as well as Le Monde Diplomatique and the Christian Science Monitor. Benson is also co-editor of Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field (with Erik Neveu, 2005) and co-author of the Free Press public policy report Public Media and Political Independence: Lessons for the Future of Journalism from around the World (with Matthew Powers, 2011).
1. Introduction: why study immigration news?; 2. The French and US journalistic fields: position, logic, and structure; 3. Narrating the immigrant experience in the US media: from jobs threat to humanitarian suffering; 4. Organizing the immigration debate in the French media: giving voice to civil society and strategizing against Le Pen; 5. Explaining continuity and change in French and US immigration news; 6. What makes the press more multiperspectival?; 7. What makes for a critical press?; 8. Does the medium matter? Television news about immigration; 9. Conclusion: the forces of fields and the forms of news.