Since the „long summer of migration“ of 2015 the topics of migration and integration of immigrants have dominated headlines and political debates throughout Europe. Several international studies showed that the media-coverage of these issues had a tendency to set them in a negative context by addressing them in relationship to crime-rate, violence and the alleged "threat of Islam". This also applies to countries that have taken in relatively few immigrants.
How do these debates come into being? And how can we provide the media with facts, qualified opinions and background-knowledge to cover them properly? These were some of the questions that the participants of the conference „Media and Migration in Europe“ discussed in the course of a two-days get-together organized by the MEDIENDIENST in Berlin on the 19th and 20th of April. The conference brought together for the first time 18 selected projects and organizations from 11 different European countries who are promoting a fact-based and well-balanced media-coverage of migration-related issues.
The aim of the conference was to exchange experiences and knowledge in order to develop ideas for future cooperations. Among the participants were projects like “Diversity Media” from the Netherlands, the British “Media Diversity Institute” and the organization "Neue deutsche Medienmacher" from Germany. They all promote diversity in the newsrooms while at the same time raising awareness about prejudices and fake-news and actively preventing their dissemination. Other participants such as the “Oxford Migration Observatory”, the Czech organization “People in Need/Člověk v tísni” and the Italian project “Open Migration” focus – not unlike the MEDIENDIENST – on collecting and spreading empirical evidence and background-knowledge. Yet other participants such as the British “Ethical Journalism Network” and the project "Media Against Hate" of the “European Federation of Journalists” operate on an international level, promote best-practice and denounce instances of media-bias. Several projects offer training-programs for journalists.
Many similarities in spite of different contexts
Every European country has a specific political context as well as a different media-landscape. In spite of these differences, the participants unanimously assessed that the climate surrounding migration-related issues in their home-country has become harsher over the past few years. In Hungary the situation is particularly worrisome: here projects promoting a humane and unbiased approach to these issues are vilified as „enemies of the State“, as the Advocacy and project officer of the "Hungarian Helsinki Committe", Anikó Bakonyi, said in her interview with the MEDIENDIENST INTEGRATION.
Interview with Aniko Bakonyi (Hungarian Helsinki Committee)
The participants could identify several common challenges;
- The tone of the media-coverage concerning migration has become rougher.
- Conservative and right-wing populist parties have had a major influence on the debate on migration-related issues.
- Social media, fake-news and „hate speech“ have also had a strong impact on these debates.
- The voices of people directly affected by the debates, such as immigrants, refugees and representatives of minorities are seldom heard.
- The subject of migration has been a major news-item throughout Europe. Different media in different countries had a tendency to deal with it in the same worried tone – no matter how big the inflow of immigrants in their country.
- Migration and asylum-policy often seem to steal the spotlight from other crucial issues such as social insecurity and fear of the future. Thus, the media focus on migration-related stories while crucial issues that affect society as a whole such as unemployment, poverty and women’s rights are often underreported.
All participants agreed that it would be worthwhile to promote a closer cooperation. To this end they developed several ideas that the MEDIENDIENST INTEGRATION would like to see through – among others the exchange of data and national surveys, the opportunity to coordinate international research-projects and to visit different projects in other European countries.
Participating projects and organizations
⇒ Associazione Carta di Roma
⇒ Diversity Media
⇒ Ethical Journalism Network
⇒ Institut neue Schweiz
⇒ La Cimade
⇒ Media Against Hate
⇒ Media Diversity Institute
⇒ Migration Online
⇒ Migration Policy Group
⇒ Neue deutsche Medienmacher
⇒ Norsensus Mediaforum
⇒ Open Migration
⇒ Oxford Migration Observatory
⇒ People in Need
⇒ The Hungarian Helsinki Committee
Von Fabio Ghelli und Rana Göroğlu