WACC calls for ethical journalism for refugees

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WACC calls for ethical journalism for refugees

Journalism, and the media, should help people to understand the world around them and to navigate the complexities of our societies. For that truly to happen, no one should be excluded.

Journalism can be as much a distorting lens as a magnifying glass. WACC’s media monitoring research in 2017 revealed that fewer than one in four European news stories contained interviews with actual refugees, migrants or asylum seekers.

That finding is echoed in recent research by the European Journalism Observatory confirming the relative invisibility and lack of voice of migrant and refugees in stories concerning them.

Lack of representation translates to invisibility, and when people or communities are invisible, their rights can much more easily be violated. When internally displaced persons, refugees and asylum seekers are portrayed in the media as burdens or threats, their lives are affected and the communities in which they live as well.

As Covid-19 complicates refugee journeys and lives, it is more important than ever for journalists to present narratives that do not compound the difficulties refugees face.

In this context, it is crucial for media to provide realistic coverage that fairly and ethically portrays all the different communities that co-exist in society, including migrants and refugees.

Inclusive, accurate coverage of society helps to create a feeling of belonging, and contributes to less polarised debate. If all communities are adequately and accurately represented, (ab)using emotions for political purposes becomes much more difficult.

Photo above: Gole Yaqoub holds her nine-month-old child, Zylan, in a camp for internally displaced Yazidis at Dawodiya in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. By Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance