Reporting on refugees - NUJ Ireland & UNHCR guidance

  • 04 Dec 2015

Asylum and immigration remain controversial, newsworthy topics about which people have strong opinions.

Reporting on Refugees

Our Code of Conduct commits us to providing coverage that is non-racist. As in many other countries, there are manifestations of racism in Ireland and that makes our job all the harder. This leaflet is designed to assist working journalists. The NUJ (UK and Ireland) has also published Guidelines on Race Reporting. In covering asylum and immigration related issues journalists must also remember their obligations under the Press Council of Ireland Code of Practice for Newspapers and Periodicals and under Irish broadcasting legislation.


It’s important for editors, reporters, sub-editors and photographers to realise that, when we get it wrong, people suffer directly. Immigrant communities (which now include some of our own journalistic colleagues) have told us how inaccurate press articles or broadcasts have even led to violence against them, in some cases. Sloppy, unprofessional work on these subjects always hurts the vulnerable in some way. That means always: checking and cross-checking information, being aware of the veracity of sources, being mindful of the language we use and the context in which information is presented.

In seeking to improve standards, we are not trying to stifle debate. Rather we are seeking to ensure that all of us meet our obligations through fair and honest journalism. While there is a widespread awareness of the importance of accurate reporting some of our colleagues continue to print or broadcast myths and misinformation about refugees and asylum-seekers. Inaccurate terminology and commentary has increased confusion and that breeds prejudice.

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