Moving Stories: EJN Report on Media Coverage of Migrants

Published: 18 December 2015

Region: Worldwide

EJN_Report_Refugees_GreeceJournalists, who report on refugee crisis and migration, often fail to tell the full story and routinely fall into propaganda traps laid by politicians, says the report published by the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN). The report Moving Stories reviews media coverage in European Union and another 14 countries around the world.

The 100-page report highlights how journalists and media in Europe failed to raise the alarm about an imminent influx of refugees fleeing war in Syria and Iraq, even though the story was there to be told a year before the crisis broke in 2015. It also highlights anti-migrant and anti-Muslim statements by some politicians and public figures, as well as sensationalism in reporting on migration and refugee crisis.To counter these problems, the report recommends that news media take urgent action to appoint specialist reporters to the migration beat. It also calls for industry wide and in-house training on migration issues and problems of hate-speech; improved links with migrant and refugee groups; and more employment of journalists from ethnic minority communities to strengthen diversity in newsrooms.

EJN_Report_on_RefugeesThe reports states: “There is a tendency, both among many politicians and in sections of the mainstream media, to lump migrants together and present them as a seemingly endless tide of people who will steal jobs, become a burden on the state and ultimately threaten the native way of life. Such reporting is not only wrong; it is also dishonest. Migrants often bring enormous benefits to their adopted countries.”

The report examines media coverage in a diverse range of countries. From Australia, a country built by migrants, where media struggle to apply well-meaning codes of journalistic practice within a toxic political climate to Nepal and the Gambia which are exporters of labour.  In these countries censorship or a lack of resources – or a combination of both – are mainly to blame for poor coverage.

In Europe, where migration and refugee issues have shaken the tree of European unity, media struggle to provide balanced coverage when political leaders respond with a mix of bigotry and panic – some announcing they will only take in Christian migrants while others plan to establish walls and razor wire fences.

“Around the world media coverage is often politically led with journalists following an agenda dominated by loose language and talk of invasion and swarms. But at other moments the story is laced with humanity, empathy and a focus on the suffering of those involved,” said Aidan White, EJN Director.