How to cover Migration on Media? 7 recommendations for Journalists

 

One picture travelled around the world and soared charity donations. One broadcast played a crucial role in creating the atmosphere of charged racial hostility that allowed for a genocide to occur. We are talking about the iconic photo of the body of 3-year-old Syrian refugee, Alan Kurdi, and the Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines convicted for inciting in April to July 1994 the Rwandan genocide. However, media coverage is not only positive or negative.

According to the World Migration Report 2018, media, in all its forms, plays a significant role in the framing of policy discourses that affect how people act, what people think, how policymakers prioritize agendas, and how migrants make decisions. Given this, it raises the question: How should journalists and media professionals approach a complicated and diverse issue such as Migration?

For this purpose, we provide a list of recommendations to improve reporting on migrants and migrations from a human rights-based approach:

  • Words matter. Journalists often employ inexact terms like “illegal” “aliens” or fail to distinguish between asylum seekers, migrants, refugees and the rights and the protection they are entitled under international law. Examine the terminology you use, consult IOM´s  Glossary on Migration and/or seek capacity-building opportunities and online workshops to understand migration.
  • Respect the dignity of migrants. Avoid the use of dehumanizing language and metaphors that cast migration as form of a natural disaster (often a flood), or migrants as animals, especially insects (“swarms”).
  • Challenge hate speech. Avoid stereotypical, negative expressions referring to the ethnic origin of suspects, for instance, crime reports emphasizing the legal stay status of a person. The Ethical Journalism Initiative has developed a helpful tool and reminds journalists that just because someone said something outrageous it doesn’t make it newsworthy.
  • Connect with migrants. Include a variety of sources, engage with migrants, refugee groups, activists and NGOs that can provide vital information. It is important to include the voice of migrants and reflect the human aspect of Migration, advocate and report on humanitarian crisis and/or violation of human rights at hand, the contrary may reduce migrant’s livelihood and dignity to a problem or a number to be debated over in public discourse.  
  • Ensure a balanced coverage. Avoid victimization and over simplification. In most cases, migrants are perceived in extremes, either as a problem or as victim. Challenge these notions and promote other aspects of migration, for example, cover the stories of successful artists, diasporas, remittances and the contribution of migrants to development in your country.
  • Adopt an International focus. Place the migration story in a global context, local or national interests may predominate at the expense of a wider understanding of the migration and the reasons for it. Framing migration as a conflict between nations may highlight the differences and disparate views of certain individuals or governments officials at the expense of migrant’s rights, integrity and dignity.
  • Promote evidence-based public discourse. Make use of accurate information and resources, understand that correlation does not mean causation, be transparent and share with the public resources to further explore the topic at hand. Confront, fact-check and analyze statements to hold accountable authorities, educate the public and contribute to a deeper understanding of migration.

In the rise of xenophobic and anti-migrant discourses, as stated by IOM in Migration Initiatives 2019 - Migration governance: From commitments to actions: media professionals and journalists have an important role in shaping perceptions. Follow these recommendations and counter negative attitudes and behavior towards migrants by raising awareness on risks or situations of human rights violations faced by migrants and advocating for them to stop.

 

Want to know more?

Under full respect for the freedom of media, the vast majority of the UN member states have also agreed on eliminating all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration, in tandem with the Sustainable Development Goals (8.8, 10.3, 10.7, 16.b)

 

Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) 

Objective 17 c)

Promote independent, objective and quality reporting of media outlets, including internet-based information, including sensitizing and educating media professional on migration related issues and terminology, investing in ethical reporting standards and advertising, and stopping allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants, in full respect for the freedom of the media.

 

USEFUL RESOURCES & TOOLS

Ethical Journalism Institute

https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/what-we-do/media-and-migration

Training Modules on Labour Migration for Media Professionals, International Labour Organization

https://www.ilo.org/beirut/WCMS_330309/lang--en/index.htm

Media and Trafficking in Human Beings – Guidelines

https://www.icmpd.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Media_and_THB_Guidelines_EN_WEB.pdf

Charter of Rome for reporting on migrants and refugees

http://www.media-diversity.org/en/additional-files/documents/A%20Guides/Charter_of_Rome.pdf

The Camden Principles on Freedom of Expression and Equality

https://www.article19.org/data/files/pdfs/standards/the-camden-principles-on-freedom-of-expression-and-equality.pdf

Media Diversity Institute

http://www.media-diversity.org/en/

The Media Project

https://themediaproject.org/ethics-standards/

 

 

 


Interviewing Rubén Sánchez, Director of 'Zanmi'

Interviewing Rubén Sánchez, Director of 'Zanmi'
Categoria: Communication & Migration
Autor: Laura Manzi

‘Zamni' (2018) is one of the films that participated in the 2020 edition of the Global Migration Film Festival. The short film, which was selected to be screened at regional level by the Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, narrates the experiences and daily lives of four Haitian migrants in Chile and their integration process in the South American country.

In this interview, the young director Rubén Sánchez, tells what objectives and motivations guided him towards the creation of the short film.

Why did you choose young Haitian migrants as the protagonists of your work? Is there something in their profile that makes them different from other migrant communities in Chile?

What struck us is that the Haitian population here in Chile is the one that finds it most difficult to integrate into society. One of the main reasons is that they speak another language, the Creole language, and that is an even bigger barrier considering that Chilean Spanish has many idioms and tends to be spoken very quickly. Another obstacle to integration is the racism and rejection of some sectors of society towards the Haitian population: whether because of ethnicity, nationality, language or other prejudices. This leads to more segregation and not integration.

In the short film, there are many scenes that portray different landscapes: the sea, the forest, the city. What is the role of nature in the integration process of migrants?

Climatic conditions and landscapes can be a challenge for integration. For example, Haiti is very flat, there are no mountains and the climate is tropical. Here in Chile, nature and microclimates are quite diverse (the north has higher temperatures, the south is more humid and rainy, while the central zone is a mixture of these).
Nature, however, has also a symbolic purpose in the documentary. The mountain range, which characterizes the Chilean landscape, is the great frontier that any person faces to reach Chile. This justifies the scene that opens and closes the film and represents one of the protagonists in the Embalse del Yeso, which is a place here in Santiago, in the middle of the mountain range. We wanted to film those scenes there as a more oneiric way of representing this enormous wall that is like a border to cross in order to reach Chile, and that at the same time symbolizes the great wall that is in the cultural shock that the Haitian population faces.

‘Life is a circle. A perfect circle of which we are not a part': the protagonists in the film have jobs, go to school, learn Spanish. Then, what are the elements that continue to prevent their integration into the host community, this 'circle' from which they are excluded?

The cultural shock is big. If the host society lives this 'fear of the unknown', the Haitian migrant population in turn reacts and this generates a fear of the community where they live. The lack of integration is made difficult by prejudice and because initiatives that value cultural richness are not promoted. I think this is what we lack as a society: to be more educated. If there is no good education, there will be no people who cannot integrate; we still need to be educated and 'humanized'. I feel that in some way we are also 'dehumanized'. This is what the documentary wants to capture: to reflect on the humanity that we need, the humanity that we need to integrate others, to show that we are all really the same, we are all human beings and we all have dreams.

How much is the director visible in his work? How come are you interested in the subject of migration?

The issue of Haitian migration was, for me, a personal concern, because I live in one of the cities in Chile with the largest Haitian population. I used to witness daily this rejection of the Haitian population in the eyes of the people, in comments that were exchanged by whispering in the bus when I went to the university. I was worried about that.
Also, before I enrolled in audiovisual communication, I studied social work, and had many courses on the migration issue and related social policies. I did a lot of research on Haitian migration, which allowed me to capture the central idea of the short film. During the shooting process, I had the opportunity to meet these young people (Haitian migrants), to live their culture, to taste their food. I was filled with a culture that I didn't know, I was filled with knowledge, with a new experience. I wish this documentary could reach more people, change who we are and cultivate our humanity.