Who Says What or Nothing at All? Speakers, Frames, and Frameless Quotes in Unauthorized Immigration News in the United States, Norway, and France

Rodney Benson, Tim Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Determining the speakers and arguments that dominate the news has long been a core task of media sociology. Yet systematic evidence linking the two—who says what or nothing at all—is lacking in news analysis, especially on the important issue of immigration. In this article, we analyze quoted sources and issue frames in U.S., French, and Norwegian news coverage of unauthorized immigration during 2011 and 2012. Supporting claims of transnational media homogenization, we find most quotes are “frameless,” that is, do not contain any substantial arguments addressing the problems, causes, or solutions associated with immigration. Of those quotes that do offer frames, problem frames are far more common than causes and solutions. Across nations and media types, government sources dominate the news, focusing on problems for society, while pro-immigration associations and unaffiliated individuals help account for overall greater attention to problems for immigrants. On the other hand, providing limited support for structural variation, less narrative-driven French media featured fewer frameless quotes and also tended to offer more cause and solution frames than U.S. or Norwegian media; dominant frames varied notably across nations; and elite right newspapers were more likely to quote anti-immigration speakers and emphasize problems for society than other types of outlets. We also find that the mediated immigration “debate” is often only a series of opposed monologues; even ideologically diverse groups such as unaffiliated citizens tend to be linked to a small range of frames, suggesting that “who says what” is not a reflection of society, but rather the outcome of journalistic practices and sources’ rhetorical tactics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)802-821
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Volume59
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 6 2015

Fingerprint

Emigration and Immigration
Norway
France
immigration
news
cause
sociology of communication
Newspapers
Sociology
tactics
newspaper
elite
coverage
immigrant
citizen
narrative
evidence
Society
Group

Keywords

  • frames
  • immigration
  • journalism
  • media systems
  • sources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education

Cite this

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abstract = "Determining the speakers and arguments that dominate the news has long been a core task of media sociology. Yet systematic evidence linking the two—who says what or nothing at all—is lacking in news analysis, especially on the important issue of immigration. In this article, we analyze quoted sources and issue frames in U.S., French, and Norwegian news coverage of unauthorized immigration during 2011 and 2012. Supporting claims of transnational media homogenization, we find most quotes are “frameless,” that is, do not contain any substantial arguments addressing the problems, causes, or solutions associated with immigration. Of those quotes that do offer frames, problem frames are far more common than causes and solutions. Across nations and media types, government sources dominate the news, focusing on problems for society, while pro-immigration associations and unaffiliated individuals help account for overall greater attention to problems for immigrants. On the other hand, providing limited support for structural variation, less narrative-driven French media featured fewer frameless quotes and also tended to offer more cause and solution frames than U.S. or Norwegian media; dominant frames varied notably across nations; and elite right newspapers were more likely to quote anti-immigration speakers and emphasize problems for society than other types of outlets. We also find that the mediated immigration “debate” is often only a series of opposed monologues; even ideologically diverse groups such as unaffiliated citizens tend to be linked to a small range of frames, suggesting that “who says what” is not a reflection of society, but rather the outcome of journalistic practices and sources’ rhetorical tactics.",
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