On November 20, 2014, President Obama threw a bombshell by issuing an executive order to allow 4 - 5 million undocumented immigrants to get three-year work permits in the US, circumventing a Congress where immigration legislation had been stalled for years. Meanwhile, tension was building around the US as a verdict was expected in Ferguson, Missouri, on whether a white police officer would be charged in the shooting death of an unarmed Black teenager, and the media echoed with reports from a bloody attack two days before on a synagogue in Jerusalem in which the four fatalities held North American citizenship.
For the mainstream media, the major issues of the day were the anticipated executive order on immigration, the tensions over the anticipated Ferguson grand jury ruling, the Florida State University shooting that day and the snow storm affecting the North-Eastern United States. Other, less frequent, stories dealt with the danger posed by drones to flight safety, demographic immigration trends, Obamacare, tuition increases in California and the high cost of higher education, the Senate vote blocking the Keystone pipeline, and a Senate vote blocking reforms to limit the National Security Agency's intelligence gathering through ordinary citizens' phone records.
These issues were also mentioned in the ethnic media, with a strong focus on the executive order on immigration reform. This issue was examined from many different angles, covering both the mainstream reports on responses by Democrat and Republican politicians and reactions from ethnic organizations, individual immigrants and pro-immigrant activist organizations. Some reports emphasized how national TV networks refused to transmit President Obama’s speech live. A lot of background was given on the history of immigration policy and on the 'winners and losers' of the reform - those who would benefit and those who were left out.
Both mainstream and ethnic media reported on local issues, including local crimes, protests, employment statistics, minimum wages, city council elections and decisions, law suits and daycare rules. However, the ethnic media also covered news about the ethnic community of the source, from religious, cultural and national celebrations to achievements by community members and intra- and inter-community conflicts and controversy.
The ethnic media are thus an additional venue to reach local population groups with news about local issues, while monitoring the ethnic media would help local officials and companies keep abreast with cultural community events to attend or sponsor and controversies to respond to or avoid.
Also of high importance were health related issues, including drug and hospital costs, obesity and nutrition, breast cancer and hospitalization rates and the way they affect the given media's ethnic group differently. The ethnic media are an excellent venue for awareness raising campaigns on health and social issues, as information can be targeted to each cultural group and is often considered trustworthy if it is presented in the community media and language.
While the mainstream media limited its coverage of world affairs to the Middle East - the war on IS, the Jerusalem attack on a synagogue and a suicide bombing in Iraq - the ethnic media covered a wider range of international and country of origin issues. Concerns regarding the given home country, from violence in Mexico and Venezuela to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, were prominent, as were reports on US aid, agreements on climate change, and the activities of inter-governmental organizations like the World Trade Organization and OSCE.
In the following sections of our analysis of the ethnic media snapshot, we will look at the most prominent issues in more detail: Ethnic media reactions to the immigration reform announcement, the ethnic media's coverage of the conflict with the Islamic State, coverage of potential candidates in the 2016 elections, reporting on racism and race relations, and coverage of President Obama with respect to issues other than the executive order on immigration reform.
Originally posted November 10, 2015.