If you’re a “citizen journalist” trying to tell the story of migrants and refugees, take time for some basic training before you begin. The following five questions are based on a report by Johnny Fisher, a writer for the organization Amplifying Voices. His full findings—and training materials—are available here.
- Are you sharing a legal context?
If the phrase “legal context” sounds boring to those trying to tell a very personal story, pay attention to this: providing a legal context is very important for countering misinformation about migration. What’s that mean? If you refer—even briefly—to research or other credible sources in your story, you’ll help avoid bias and build credibility.
- Do you have a migrant directly in your story?
Meaningful representation of migrants by migrants themselves fosters a more personal connection between supporters and community members. This could also mean asking migrants to write some articles for you!
- Do you portray “regular heroes?”
Try to tell your stories from the perspective of migrants in a way that celebrate the efforts and successes of the community, despite the difficulties they face. It’s also important to balance your portrayal of “regular heroes” by acknowledging their limitations or disappointments.
- Do you challenge the stereotype of refugees as people dependent on outside aid?
Your story should show the ways in which local solutions are flowering—or at least being planted. For example, tell stories about migrants and refugees who are working to develop their community, create media content, promote political stability, lead nonprofits, even release music albums. In other words, find creative ways to show migrant leaders at work.
- Have you found ways to equip community members to create their own news content?
Rather than telling the stories of migrants and refugees for them, find ways to share citizen journalism skills based on “solutions journalism” and advice from professional journalists.
Johnny Fisher’s research is part of Changing the Narrative, a project produced by the World Association for Christian Communication regional associations in Africa, Europe, and Middle East with financial support by the Otto per Mile foundation of the Waldensian Church in Italy. For more information—and more stories—visit the Changing the Narrative results page.