Date of Award

12-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication Studies

Committee Member

Dr. Travers Scott, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Erin Ash

Committee Member

Dr. Kristen Okamoto

Abstract

This research was designed to examine how two examples of partisan news media contribute to America’s collective understanding of unauthorized immigration, and more specifically, the immigrant himself/herself. After tracing a general history of discourses of the unauthorized immigrant in America through a review of relevant literature, these understandings of immigration were then used as a point of reference and comparison for current journalism on the topic. More than 500 articles about unauthorized immigration were collected, derived from left-leaning Slate.com and right-leaning Breitbart.com. Then, using a discursive analysis in the tradition of poststructuralist philosopher Michel Foucault, emergent patterns of power within the portrayals of immigrants were compared and contrasted, not just along ideological lines, but also along temporal ones, so as to show the evolution of immigration discourses from earlier coverage to those represented in the sample. This analysis suggests that, despite ideological differences inherent in the competing immigration discourses, both Slate and Breitbart imposed their discursive will upon the immigrant subject, cultivating subject positions in their respective bodies of coverage that do not extend immigrants agency to define themselves or contribute to a better understanding of who they are. This analysis further suggests a need to reconsider and rearticulate America’s expectations of journalism, more specifically to take up standards rooted in ethical and consistent position-taking, rather than false balance and artificially imposed objectivity in the name of fairness.

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