Research: How National Media Define US Citizenship

Cristina Mislan at AEJMC 2016

Research at the Missouri School of Journalism focuses on solving problems and understanding different situations that are currently affecting our world.

Assistant Professor Cristina Mislan will present a paper she co-authored with graduate student Alejandro Morales at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference Aug. 4-7 in Minneapolis. Mislan and Morales analyzed news coverage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which was implemented by the Reagan administration, to examine how national media define citizenship in the United States.

Mislan believes that it is important to analyze this historical policy because such understanding allows readers to place contemporary conversations about immigration within historical context. This study illustrates how two elite newspapers played key roles in shaping the construction of citizenship discourse through narratives about chaos, discrimination and fraud. It argues that news media have reflected national attempts to maintain sovereignty – drawing borders around already-established citizens. The analysis provides insight into the ways newspapers help determine who belongs in the nation.

“Researching this topic and understanding how citizenship is defined by the media really shows how we see ourselves as a nation,” she says.

Mislan also believes that it is important for faculty to work with students on research. Students become familiar with the research process and get involved in real-world problems.

“It’s important to be mentors to students in hopes that they will continue to learn and grow as scholars,” Mislan says. “It’s also a good way for students to build relationships. I know I still work with a lot of my mentors, and it’s fun getting to work with students to prepare them as scholars.”

Mislan teaches courses in qualitative research methods and cross-cultural journalism. Her research draws on critical/cultural and transnational theories to study the role race, class and gender play in shaping alternative news media. Mislán also examines the relationship between globalization, transnationalism and media activism to study how activists use media for advocating social and political causes.

Kody Ferrin is a student in the Advanced Social Media Class.

Updated: August 3, 2020