In a year dominated by the war in Iraq and the 2008 presidential campaign coverage, how much media attention did immigration receive? Which aspects of the immigration issue did the media most tune into? What was not covered? And who provided the most coverage?
As comprehensive news coverage of 2007 from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) shows, the war and the presidential election consumed nearly a third of the overall newshole.   And the debate over US immigration policy was able to secure itself a position within the top 10 stories of the year. It was the fourth biggest story overall for 2007.
Most Covered Topics Across All Media
Source: PEJ, A Year in the News, 2007
However, a closer look into the data shows that immigration coverage for the year 2007 was not consistent, but episodic. Analysis of a year in the news of immigration comes from PEJ’s in-depth analysis of news coverage of 70,737 stories for the entire year of 48 media outlets across 5 media sectors. Below are some of the key findings specific to immigration:
% of the newshole of all immigration stories considered in this study were on legislation discussion. The second largest category (27% of the news space studied) was a miscellany of events: such as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on illegal immigrants, and a variety of human interest stories, including one about Elvira Arellano, who took refuge in a church in Chicago.
nt in the case of immigration coverage as well. While immigration policy coverage skyrocketed in May and June for talk radio and cable, immigration as a topic was consistently present within newspapers signaling an effort to track immigration as a subject that ebbed and flowed throughout the year.
Throughout 2007, the news agenda was dominated by a few major general topic areas. As stated in the State of the News Media 2008 report by PEJ, “coverage of US foreign policy and US politics and elections accounted for almost one-third of the overall newshole for the year.” Immigration as a topic came in after business coverage at 2.8% of the overall newshole.
A closer look into the immigration coverage timeline across the year and media reveals how as a topic it was not only covered episodically but also in political terms. While coverage was pretty much low but steady throughout the year, the spike to 5.2% for the second quarter of 2007 shows how immigration as a topic received more coverage when it was political.
While immigration received modest media attention in the first three months of 2007, it emerged in the second quarter of the year to become the biggest domestic policy issue. The debate over US immigration policy, which included an unsuccessful effort to pass a major immigration reform bill in the Senate, was the fourth biggest story overall in the quarter, filling 5.7% of the total newshole.
Coverage of immigration during that time increased dramatically in every sector. More specifically, coverage increased sharply between May 17 and June 28 coinciding with the time frame of the birth and death of the Immigration bill. Coverage of immigration across all media was the No.1 topic in the news. With 9.2% of the news space studied for that particular time period, immigration was able to secure first place ahead of the presidential campaign coverage at 8.9%. Let us consider this specific time period in more detail.