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Writing ImmigrationScholars and Journalists in Dialogue$
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Marcelo Suarez-Orozco

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520267176

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520267176.001.0001

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Covering Immigration

Covering Immigration

From Stepchild Beat to Newsroom Mainstream

(p.90) INTERLUDE I Covering Immigration
Writing Immigration

Patrick J. McDonnell

University of California Press

This Interlude focuses on ground zero of the new immigration debate: Southern California in the 1990s. It reflects on the two distinct challenges faced day in and day out. The first is how to get attention for stories about immigrants and refugees, a population little known to most editors, and reporters. The second challenge is how to write such articles without being perceived as an advocate. The chapter reminds us of the principle of “fairness” to all sides in the debate, even if we acknowledge that absolute objectivity is an illusory goal. Most reporters, the chapter claims, are sympathetic with the plight of immigrants. It notes that “standing up for the underdog” is a hallowed journalistic tradition. Behind the immigration story is a fundamental human drama of searching for a better life in a new country. But what to do with the “backlash” that mass migration generates in times of crisis? The chapter finally revisits some personal struggles throughout a long career to help explain what was going on, and how California was pushed to this nasty precipice.

Keywords:   Southern California, immigration, immigrants, refugees, fairness, objectivity, mass migration, reporters

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