Group Identity, Ideology, and Mass Media: Content Analysis of the 2018 Media Spectacles Family Separation and Migrant Caravan




Smith, Marianne

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Media content analysis prompts an examination of the process through which meaning making and identity is reflected in and simultaneously shaped by a commercialized mass media industry. Immigration coverage in mass media especially drives ideological identity work as national identity ideology becomes a debate between two politically distinct sides. This content analysis examines print and cable news coverage of two media spectacles involving immigration in 2018: family separation at the border and migrant caravans. This thesis examines the themes that emerge across politically diverse news outlets and categorizes them in terms of how the phenomena is represented among distinct group identities utilizing Ethnographic Content Analysis methodology (Altheide 1987). Findings show that as media outlets are both bound by and champions for their political ideologies, convincing the audience to feel one way in contrast to another way becomes a battle between the political left and right. During the 2018 border media spectacles, evidence employed by the media in this battle consistently included these themes: 1) lamenting childhood trauma and condemning those who caused it, 2) fact checking the enemy and delivering reality to the audience, 3) framing in political terms, 4) assigning a guilty party for the Latino Immigrant Issue at hand, and 5) asking who is responsible to then step up and address the Latino Immigrant Issue and at what cost to Americans?



Media, Group identity, Ideology, Immigration


Smith, M. (2019). Group identity, ideology, and mass media: Content analysis of the 2018 media spectacles family separation and migrant caravan (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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