Define American released a new body of research on immigration and local news – “Reimagining Immigration News: North Carolina’s Case for the Nation” – that gives journalists in every state a road map for inclusive coverage of immigrant communities and policies.
The organization collaborated with the Center for Public Interest Communications on the project. Engaged as a research partner, the Center team activated experts in media effects, solutions journalism, message design and other disciplines. The Center provided an analysis of North Carolina media consumers and conducted a content design experiment that informed the findings.
The report blends traditional reporting from 50-plus interviews with stakeholders, with a media content analysis conducted by the Media Ecosystems Analysis Group. The lead author of the report is Define American’s Director of Journalism Partnerships, Liz Robbins. She is a 19-year veteran of The New York Times, covering local immigrant communities and immigration policy. The Center collaborated with Robbins and Define American’s Director of Research Sarah E. Lowe.
Among the findings:
- The issue is undercovered. There are only three reporters focused on covering immigrant communities in North Carolina, down from six in 2021. The report shares the organization considers that insufficient in a state of 300 media outlets, where the immigrant population has doubled since 2000.
- The stories told don’t focus on all immigrant communities. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) make up 28.5% of the immigrant community in North Carolina, yet they’re included in fewer than 5% of immigration stories.
- Stories that aren’t just about immigration work best. When stories of immigrant communities are integrated into other coverage, such as sports or business, health or culture, they are more relatable to broader audiences.
The project was led by Center Director of Research Annie Neimand, Ph.D., and Research Associate Jack Barry, Ph.D., with assistance from Director Ann Searight, Director of Trainings and Programs Ellen Nodine and Managing Director Matt Sheehan.
The Center also activated faculty experts from the UF College of Journalism and Communications. Those faculty include:
- Juliana Fernandes, Ph.D., assistant professor in advertising
- Elizabeth ‘Lissy’ Calienes, director of the professional master’s program and lecturer in advertising
- Rachel Grant, Ph.D., assistant professor in journalism
- Kim Walsh-Childers, Ph.D., professor in journalism
- Frank Waddell, Ph.D., associate professor in journalism