Migrant narratives 

  • 12 Jan 2022

The NUJ’s Black Members’ Council is recommending a new suite of reporting guides and tips for when reporting stories about migration. 

According to the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IMO) one in every seven person in the world is a migrant—someone who has moved across an international border or within a state away from his/her habitual place of residence. 

The role of the media in shaping public perception on migration is critical. The ILO and International Federation of Journalists have joined forces to promote the best practices when reporting on labour migration, providing tools, resources, forums and practical tips for journalists covering migrant stories. 

A guide by the IMO, which provides a wealth of statistics and advice on reporting on migrants, says: “The media often convey the image of a massive and growing exodus of desperate people fleeing poverty, conflict and famine, thus raising the spectre of a threat to be contained to preserve the stability of industrialised countries. This alarmist message plays an important role in dehumanising migrants and refugees by depicting them as “invaders”, making it easier to justify racist acts as well as policies and repressive measures.” 

The resources are useful for all journalists, whether generalist reporters writing migrant news stories or specialist journalists who regularly write stories on the subject. 

There is a Facebook Group for media professionals covering labour migration, where they can share tips, receive updates about the latest resources and events and create professional networks with other journalists and media. There is a video by the Ethical Journalism Network’s Dorothy Byrne on her Five Point Guide for Migration Reporting. 

Stories about migrants can be controversial and journalists need to be on solid ground and have the facts to hand or know where to get them. 

Emelia Kenlock, chair of the NUJ’s Black Members’ Council, said:

“The BMC fully endorses these excellent resources from the ILO and IFJ on reporting on migrants and migration. They can pay a vital role in conjunction with the NUJ’s reporting guides intended to support and promote ethical reporting on these issues.  

“The use of language is very important – journalists must avoid using such words as ‘swamped’ and making a distinction between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ refugees. They should also remember when reporting on the ground, such as when boat arrive across the English Channel, we are often dealing with distressed and deeply disorientated human beings.” 

MIGRANT NARRATIVES: the ILO & IFJ resources for ethical journalism. 

NUJ reporting guidance: including on refugees, race reporting guide and reporting on Muslims and Islam. 

Ethics of reporting of the Afghan crisis, asylum and refugees: NUJ Ethics Council event. 

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