Story of child immigrants goes uncovered, grad student finds

UO doctoral student Ricardo Valencia
UO doctoral student Ricardo Valencia

For doctoral candidate Ricardo Valencia, awareness is the primary takeaway he hopes people will get from his upcoming talk on how American media have covered the recent surge of unaccompanied children entering the country from Central America.

To prepare for his talk, “At the Border: A comparative analysis of U.S. newspaper reporting about unaccompanied immigrant children,” Valencia — who was born and raised in El Salvador — spent last summer studying hundreds of articles and news sources from four U.S. newspapers with national syndication. He found that news coverage of Central American children coming to the United States was scarce, and Valencia believes thatneeds to change.

“I believe these conversations are important to have because Central Americans are one of the largest Latino communities, and they are so relevant to the conversation, but we don’t find enough research about them ­—  especially in communications,” Valencia said. “It’s also important to raise some awareness and to highlight some of the issues that are not only relevant to the United States, but also for the whole continent.”

Valencia’s talk will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, in Room 125 McKenzie Hall.

Prior to working on his doctorate in media studies at the UO’s School of Journalism and Communication, Valencia was a diplomat for El Salvador’s embassy in Washington, D.C. He was also an investigative reporter and correspondent for several newspapers in El Salvador.

He believes his upcoming talk about how newspapers report on the immigration of Central American children is important because the children are risking their lives to come to the United States, and not many people seem to be noticing.

“We are witnessing a phenomenon that needs to be addressed, and not just in the United States, but also in other countries,” Valencia said. “The way kids are coming to the United States is very complicated because they are fleeing the country for a reason, and they’re trying to stay here. We have to be aware that Central America and the United States are in this together.”

By Craig Garcia, Public Affairs Communications intern