ARTICLE: Which sources would journalists choose for immigration news?

Elite sources tend to dominate the coverage of immigration, but when journalists have the chance they include more immigrants’ voices. Akhteruz Zaman, of Massey University, and Jahnnabi Das, of University of Technology Sydney, came to the conclusion after analysing 525 news articles published by six newspapers in six countries.

Zaman and Das made a distinction between “enterprise” journalism and routine journalism. In enterprise journalism the reporters are proactive and thus have more power to choose their sources, the authors reasoned. Conversely, in routine journalism the relevant sources are defined by the events and existing structures. Indeed, elite sources such as politicians, officials and businesses dominate routine coverage of immigration.

Documents were widely used as sources by all papers, but there were also notable differences between immigrants’ typical origin countries and destination countries. The Australian and New Zealander papers relied on politicians, officials and businesses, while the sample’s Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan papers downplayed businesses and emphasized officials over politicians. This is indicative of how journalists in those countries see the issue of immigration, the authors suggest.

Officials or politicians were the most common sources in all six papers. However, immigrants were significantly more prominent in enterprise news than in routine news – but only in the origin countries’ papers. This suggests that given the chance, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan journalists choose more immigrant sources than what routine permits. In contrast, Australian and New Zealander reporters seem to prefer the same elite sources both in enterprise and routine journalism.

The article “Enterprise Journalism in Migration News” was published by the journal Journalism Practice. It is available online on the publisher’s website (abstract free).

Picture: Untitled by Markéta Machová.

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