Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

A Transnational Network Analysis of Refugees in Crisis

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Abstract:  Over 3,000 articles from 2012–2022 in Spanish and English across the US, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras were manually coded to better understand how refugees in crisis were framed in both home and destination countries. This study uses a detailed frame analysis and a broad transnational network analysis to highlight each refugee attribute on the media agenda that then informs policy across nations. While there is wide variation in the immigration policies of the countries sampled, there was nearly uniform negative framing and clustering of identical negative attributes across all countries sampled. This negative transnational homogenization of news content problematises the idea of unique journalism norms and may have profound “real world” consequences that can further stigmatize refugees throughout the Americas. This research also found that the valence of content became more negative and emotive over time. This suggests that the debate around immigration will continue and even escalate as a battleground of politics and culture—and that refugees may be portrayed even more negatively across media in the future. Given this increasing negativity and emotionality in coverage, societies may see more nationalistic—and xenophobic—immigration policies throughout the Americas and a less empathetic focus on the human rights of refugees.

Keywords:  immigration policy; media; media framing; negative attributes; news coverage; policy branding; refugees



© Linda Jean Kenix, Eliot Gibbins. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.