UK Press Did Not Welcome Romanians and Bulgarians

Published: 29 August 2014

Country: UK

British_PressBritish newspapers were not very welcoming towards Romanians who were expected to migrate to the country, portraying them mainly as criminals, beggars and thieves who will “flood” the UK.

This is one of the main findings of the research “Bulgarians and Romanians in the British national press”, conducted by the Migration Observatory at the Oxford University who analysed 4,000 news items from 19 different newspapers and tabloids. Researchers used a linguistic approach in order to identify the most common words, verbs and nouns, which accompanied Bulgarians and Romanians in the press throughout the 2013.

William Allen, co-author of the report, said: “The report is valuable because it provides a comprehensive account of how British national newspapers discussed Romanians and Bulgarians during a key period. The language used to describe Romanians – particularly in tabloid newspapers – often mention them alongside criminality and anti-social behaviour, while this was not the case with Bulgarians.”

The research made clear that where Romanians and Bulgarians were discussed together, consistently in the context of immigration, across both tabloid and broadsheet newspapers. Measuring, for instance, which verbs were most frequently used before the phrase “Romanians and Bulgarians”, they came up with “estimate”, “stop” and “control”. The difference between the two groups is that Romanians have been portrayed in a much worse manner than their neighbours, as they were associated mainly with criminal and illegal activities. Romanians have often been described as criminals, thieves, gangs and beggars while, on the contrary, the noun that followed the word Bulgarian most of the time was “woman”.

The report presented interesting data regarding the numbers that have been associated with the two groups. The most frequent number reported by the print media was “million”, followed by “thousands” and “50,000”, which were the figures predicted by the MigrationWatch UK, a pressure group which campaigns for reduced immigration. At the same time, tabloids have used metaphors to describe the movement of the two groups, such as flood or flock.

Newspapers analysed were: The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, The Sun on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Express, The Sunday Express, The Guardian, The Observer, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, The Independent, Independent on Sunday, Daily Star, Daily Star Sunday, The Financial Times.