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In their new report “Reimagining Immigration News,” media and culture nonprofit Define American provides a snapshot of the news coverage of immigration issues in North Carolina and how that has shaped readers’ attitudes toward the topic.
As the culmination of a year’s worth of research, the study homes in on the swing state with an immigrant population that has nearly doubled in the past two decades, using it as a bellwether for broader news trends across the country.
It found that North Carolina’s coverage of immigration is happening on a very piecemeal basis, leaving the stories of large swathes of the population untold.
“Immigration is really complicated. A lot of newsrooms don’t really understand it, and don’t have a basic knowledge of asylum and what’s going on with court backlogs and the laws or lack of laws that brought us to the point we’re at right now,” explains Liz Robbins, the organization’s director of journalism partnerships and a former New York Times immigration reporter.
“If they don’t understand it, they may shy away from it.”
Shortcomings in current coverage: The immigration beat is typically considered expendable, the report found. Journalists assigned to it are often early career reporters without the resources, knowledgeable editors and institutional support of more seasoned reporters or larger national outlets.
At North Carolina’s approximately 300 news outlets, only six reporters were focused full-time on immigrant communities in 2021, and only three remained as of 2022.
Meanwhile, the immigration stories that do appear mostly focus on the same populations again and again. For example, while 28.5% of immigrants in North Carolina are Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, less than 5% of all media coverage focuses on that community.
“Immigration is really being covered almost as a Latinx issue. A lot of communities are being ignored,” explained Robbins.
Inclusion as good business: Language access is a key barrier preventing more reporting, as is a real lack of resources to hire more hands. To leverage their existing resources and find new audiences, Define American recommends that strapped newsrooms build partnerships with other news outlets, particularly bilingual ones with strong community ties.
“The best collaborations happening across North Carolina involve Spanish news outlets working with English ones to publish what’s happening in the community,” Robbins said. “You’re providing a broader reach, gaining trust in the community for some of these legacy news operations, and you start to sort of make amends with the community that was ignored.”
She added: “At the end of the day, it’s just good business to include all communities in your reporting, not just people you’re targeting with certain ads, because these could be subscribers.”
Read the full report here.
STORIES WE ARE FOLLOWING
For asylum seekers looking to work in New York, desperation meets necessity: Barred from obtaining legal work permits for at least six months, many of the more than 21,000 recently arrived asylum seekers have been struggling to find work under the table. –Gothamist
Hell’s Kitchen Asylum Seeker Resource Center lacks resources: A backlog of appointments there is a symptom of a city system stretched to the limit. –Gothamist
Another Hell’s Kitchen Hotel becomes shelter for migrant families: City Hall abruptly announced a new sanctuary shelter for asylum-seeking families at the Washington Jefferson Hotel, sending local social services into overdrive. –W42ST
(Opinion) New York needs better enforcement against housing discrimination: An op-ed discusses the use of rental assistance vouchers in the face of record-high rents. –City Limits
Around the U.S.
Sympathies shift in Texas waystation for the undocumented: Local residents are worn down by living with a constant stream of migrants coming through their town. –The Guardian
Lack of immigration risks nation’s food supply: Farmers say they need migrant workers to keep their farms running and Americans fed. –USA Today
Immigrants face off in California Congressional District: A congressional race between two immigrants, one from Pakistan and the other from South Korea, reflects the changing demographics of the U.S. electorate. –Voice of America
Immigration’s role in a competitive House race: In Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County, a House race includes a candidate tying immigration to crime and drugs. –Wall Street Journal
One in five Canadians is now an immigrant, and the nation approves: Even as immigration has become increasingly divisive in many Western countries like the U.S., polls indicate that most Canadians support it. –New York Times
Biden admin. takes steps on marijuana justice reform: New pardons for simple federal marijuana possession convictions begin to address their harm to U.S. communities of color, Human Rights Watch says. –Human Rights Watch
Advocates say immigrants deported on cannabis charges were unfairly excluded from Biden pardon: The pardons did not cover undocumented immigrants who were deported after spending most of the lives working and living in the US. –ABC News
Race, immigration and the right-wing backlash they trigger: The Public Religion Research Institute’s annual American Values Survey unpacks how attitudes towards immigration and right-wing politics overlap. –Washington Post