Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Refugee Studies (2010) 23(2): 219-237; first published online April 29, 2010 doi:10.1093/jrs/feq019

Copyright © Sarah Steimel; published by Oxford University Press. Used by permission.


This study combines discourse analysis and narrative analysis (Yin 2007) to examine top US newspapers’ coverage of refugees in American human interest stories. I find that the refugees are presented (a) as prior victims; (b) as in search of the American Dream; and (c) as unable to achieve the American Dream. As human-interest features, the stories provide a largely positive portrayal of individual refugees and their families. However, the human interest stories also depict refugees as current victims of the American economic crisis; deeply frustrated by their inability to achieve the American Dream. Together these discourses represent a narrative of escape, hope, and then harsh reality for refugees in America’s current economic climate.