The Border Patrol and News Media Coverage of Undocumented Mexican Immigrants During the 1970s: A Quantitative Content Analysis in the Sociology of Knowledge.
AffiliationUniversity of Arizona, Department of Sociology
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Collection InformationThe goal of the Mexican American Studies & Research Center's Working Paper Series is to disseminate recent research on the Mexican American experience. The Center welcomes papers from the social sciences, public policy fields, and the humanities. Areas of particular interest include economic and political participation of Mexican Americans, health, immigration, and education. The Mexican American Studies & Research Center assumes no responsibility for statements or opinions of contributors to its Working Paper Series.
AbstractThe mass media through their power of mass persuasion have an impact on the readers’, viewers’ or listeners’ perceptions of social phenomena. This paper reports on a quantitative content analysis of articles appearing in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and Arizona Daily Star between 1972 and 1978 that dealt with the subject of undocumented (illegal) immigration from Mexico to the U.S. In this way, it is an empirical study in the sociology of knowledge that examines the social reality constructed by the news media regarding this complex social issue. We found a significant increase in the number of articles appearing each year on this topic. Relatively few were written by Spanish-surnamed individuals or used undocumented immigrants as sources of information. In fact, most of the information presented in the articles was obtained from the Border Patrol, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and politicians. We conclude that news media coverage of undocumented Mexican immigration was not balanced and that the American public accepted the biased information they read as an accurate reflection of social reality.