Few studies fully integrate the interactive effects of political, geographic, and media contexts into studies of public opinion on immigration. We rectify this by utilizing the post-Katrina Latino immigrant migration to Louisiana as an opportunity for study of these relationships.
We utilize survey data and content analysis of news coverage to examine the influence of news exposure on attitudes toward immigrants and immigration.
Exposure to immigration news influences the relative importance of immigration to other issues, self-reported personal contact with Spanish-speaking populations, and perceptions of the legal status of immigrant populations.
Local news coverage of immigration increases awareness and concern about immigration and heightened news exposure increases perceptions about personal interactions with Spanish-speaking populations. Additionally, local news coverage of immigration influences the importance of key characteristics of immigrant populations, particularly whether immigrants are here illegally. Tone of coverage, as opposed to amount, exerts the more consistent effect on immigration-related attitudes.