Media is a huge part of storytelling today. Is it responsible for the history that is being written for future generations to come?

Migration is a topic that has taken centre stage in the media in the last few years. However, few journalists are trained to cover this issue. These are the recent conclusions of media experts who gathered on 18 March in Paris to discuss on Media and Migration, during a thematic debate organized by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

To make things worse, it is a common knowledge that across all countries , “media have been manipulated by political leaders, too often accepting their outrageous statements,” added Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network which has recently published Moving Stories. 

The personal connections between politicians and media houses are known and understood by the journalists and this is taken under consideration when and how they choose to report issues. Three years ago, pictures of a dead child who was a  Syrian refugee and was found on a Turkish beach, were widely circulated and became the highlight of discussions and accumulated criticisms against the media. In contrast, the image of the Mexican refugees (specifically the image of a dead father and his daughter on the banks of a river holding hands)are not given equal prominence in the Western media in comparison.

The entanglement of media and migration expands across all fields, namely political, cultural and even social life. Migration is increasingly digitally tracked and national and international policy-making draws on data on migrant movement, anticipated movement and biometrics to maintain a sense of control over the mobility of humans and things.Social imagery has driven strong emotions and sometimes biased conclusions too.

A team of researchers from the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), the Budapest Business School and the European Journalism Centre based at Maastricht in the Netherlands, has been working to turn the camera around on news production in Europe. The example cited in their research expands one’s understanding about migration and how it is seen across the world. 

On of their interviewees, a Swedish newspaper reporter, is very positive about the role of journalism: “I enjoy great respect. People listen to what I say and want to hear my opinion.

However some, like this UK newspaper journalist, have a different experience: “Even my own friends hate the fact that I work here and think I’m a disgrace, but I’ve just learned to ignore it and I just get on with my work.”

To see migrants as a strong labour force instead of those fleeing persecution and seeking asylum will definitely change the way integration is dealt with in the western countries. The impact of imagery in the media and its impact on migration and policymakers across the world is to be given utmost importance. Images have a lasting impact and are easily able to garner attention. The question to consider is: are we being fed the images we want to see? Or are we being made to see selected images that may impact our perception of the affairs of the world?

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