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Final Report Summary - TVNPI (TV News for Promoting Interculturalism: A Novel Step towards Immigrant Integration)


TV News for Promoting Interculturalism: A Novel Step towards Immigrant Integration is a research project that addressed the variables involved in the mediation of migrant integration and experiences by media in a cross-country comparative perspective. This research worked towards a comprehensive and an integrated approach to the understanding of the role of (TV) news media in the integration processes of new migrants in the Netherlands, Spain and Ireland, both at structural and sociocultural levels. In order to understand the factors mediating the relationship between news media and migrant integration, the project studied in depth (1) news coverage patterns for approaching social reality and visibility in television news broadcasts of the host countries; (2) the roles the news play in the integration experiences of immigrants; (3) the potential of an online platform of TV news educational contents specifically designed for this project- to enhance immigrants’ skills in their host country’s language and promote intercultural communication processes through the simulation of online learning experiences with different migrant groups in the countries participating in the project.

In the first phase of the project , we conducted content analysis of a representative sample of public and commercial TV channels in Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands. This part of the project examined the patterns of TV news production across the sampling countries in three different studies. It is important to note that the latter two are still in progress.

1.1. Analysis of the phenomenon of infotainment in the construction of social reality in Spanish, Dutch and Irish television news programmes. This study adds to a more general understanding of the political and economic influences on the structures of the media market, media contents and newsroom practices in current European TV news. It was found, for instance, that Spain and Ireland included much more technical features or characteristics of infotainment in television news compared to the Netherlands. Differences between countries can therefore be explained by factors regarding public policies toward media broadcast services in each nation, as well as extrinsic environmental factors influencing the television market in the three countries. In the Netherlands and Ireland, public broadcasting services rely on a dual-funding system, whereas Spanish public media broadcasts cannot be regarded as direct competence of private operators since 2010. However, the severe consequences of the economic downturn for media organizations in Ireland and Spain may justify the increment of more infotainment features in their news programming.

1.2. Study of the ways in which sociocultural forms and values are (re)presented in the narrative of television news (both public and commercial) in Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands. For the purpose of analysis, we focus on the presentation of topics, roles of actors and their forms of representation in television news broadcasts. This study seeks to identify which news topics and actors are more visible, which actors are associated with which problems and which roles they are assigned, and to what extent responsibilities for conflicts/problems are attributed to certain actors.

1.3. Discourse analysis of the representations of immigrants in the viewer’s model of Dutch and Spanish television news programs was also conducted. Results show that immigrants do not fit within existing models of audience shaped by public and commercial news broadcasts in both countries. The findings also point at negative and stereotyped portrayals of most immigrant groups in Spanish and Dutch TV news broadcasts.

The second phase of the project considers intercultural communication processes and relations mediated by news content in evaluating how different migrant groups understand and experience integration in Spain and The Netherlands. To examine these issues, 12 focus groups with 3 migrant groups for each country were conducted to obtain richer responses. In the Netherlands, our sample of informants included migrants from Southern and Eastern Europe and refugees living in Amsterdam. In Spain, we worked with informants from Romania, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan African countries living in Madrid. This part of the project explored the role of news in the process of immigrant integration in two different studies:

1.4. Research on the integration experiences of people coming from different migrant backgrounds in the Netherlands and Spain for examining how and why immigrants use the news for their integration process and the factors influencing this relationship.

In general, migrants in this study acknowledged that media exposure to the host country’s news provides a broader range of social-cultural elements, allowing them to comprehend the values and currents issues of their host country. However, the relation between the acquisition of cultural and sociopolitical knowledge of the host country and consumption of national news was inconsistent for some groups. Among the factors influencing the relationship between media use and migrant integration in this study are the level of education, migration background, language skills (including proficiency of the host country’s language) and their perception of the host country’ news. For instance, the majority of study participants does not feel represented by news media of their host country and argue that they tend to be judgmental and portray a negative image of immigrants. On the other hand, the data across both countries call to think about the role of the context of integration (Spain and the Netherlands) in shaping immigrants' perception of and attitudes towards the use of news for their integration in the Netherlands. To put it differently, the geopolitical context of integration with respect to policies on integration and diversity in the media may influence the importance they give to 'using the news' and how they actually 'use the news' for their integration process.

1.5. Analysis of the potential of “Learning with News”, an online tool of TV news educational contents designed for the project, as a mediator in the process of immigrant integration for the acquisition of linguistic and intercultural competence in the host country. In order to achieve this goal, we employed a narrative approach to the production of educational news videos that are available in this online platform. The tool was tested with the same 12 migrant groups living in the Netherlands and Spain. Before interacting with the tool, study participants filled out a questionnaire on their patterns of (news) media consumption and social-cultural integration. Although results point at divergent opinions on the potential of the platform for language learning, the tool can be considered a mediator to foster intercultural experiences of and dialogue on integration. The level of language and digital skills are important factors affecting the functionality of the tool for the acquisition of linguistic competence.


At the following, we present the main recommendations for further research and best practices about the use of media for promoting immigrant integration and intercultural dialogue.

1- Media and communication scholars should look for ways to combine qualitative and quantitative analyses of the contextual factors and the various media factors (quality of news, transmission of host country’s culture in the news and news portrayals of immigrants) that may affect immigrants’ perception of the host country’ news and their practices of news consumption in the countries analyzed.
2- Continuing actions and initiatives to increase diversity in European news are necessary, and this should be a central issue in the building of media policies both at national and EU level.
3- Research should keep track of the effects of television on the sociocultural adaptation of migrants. Results deriving from the current study are in line with findings from previous research carried out in the United States and Canada, in which TV watching was found to be the most commonly adopted practice of media use among immigrants for obtaining information about the host country’s culture.
4- The country of residence is a moderator of the relationship between integration and adjustment. Further research should concentrate upon analysing the discourse on integration in different European countries and its impact on the way participants from different migrant backgrounds see and experience integration. These factors influence their patterns of news consumption and how they perceive the news for their integration.
5- Future studies should aim at assessing more culturally diverse groups when conducting research on the correspondence between media and immigration.
6- As for the potential of the online platform, the findings, while preliminary, suggest that the implementation of online forums for the discussion of topics and narratives that portray the integration experiences of different migrant groups across Europe, as well as their involvement in the video production activities can definitely add value to their intercultural learning experiences with the tool.
7- Finally, the use of key features of narrative fictional texts in the production of educational news contents should be further explored as a way out of the problem of comprehension and recall of information in television news as proposed in this project. A narrative approach to television news helped improve immigrant participants’ comprehension and recall of information, in particular for an improved understanding of political and social problems of the host society.

The Marie Curie project also worked in collaboration with research projects conducted in different universities and research centers. These external projects focused on several interrelated themes relevant to the goals of the Marie Curie project. A related focus has pertained to analyzing what messages generate openness toward Western European norms among Muslim immigrants. Jointly with ASCoR researchers the recruited researcher have been collaborating with a series of studies on integration and message effectiveness to test whether narrative versus numerical evidence is more effective among different subgroups of Muslim immigrants. On the other hand, the recruited researcher has also been involved in two (international) research projects on the role of cinema in promoting cultural diversity (together with researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain) and the use of entertaining collaborative digital games to foster multicultural integration at Dutch schools (Utrecht University).

For a complete description of scientific publications (published, accepted, and in progress), research collaborations, and the participation of the recruited researcher in academic conferences during the first and second phases of the project, please see Chart 1 attached to section 2 “Use and Dissemination of Foreground” of the current report.

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