Since the arrival of almost a million refugees and migrants to Europe in 2015, media in most countries has been filled with images of migrants fleeing war, suffering or losing their lives during their journey. How has Europe responded and specifically – what has the media coverage been like?
The Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) issued a report with the main findings of the cross-European analysis of the press across eight European countries – France, Germany, Greece, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Serbia and the UK, as well as the two main European Arabic language newspapers. The analysis of influential press in a six-month period focused on three peak moments in the crisis, in the 2015 summer, early autumn and late autumn.
The main challenges in the European media:
- journalists and media organisations had to respond fast and cover fast developing stories in the context of tragedy, loss of life and changing national and European policies with reporting that at times lacked good understanding of context and background;
- there is little evidence of European media initiation systematic training for their staff on how to engage with the events;
- media coverage was inevitably interacting with political decision-making and public opinion, resulting in reflecting the mainstream political narratives, which sometimes promoted hostility towards newcomers;
- in some countries, political pressure over the press were sometimes indirect, but effective and regulation is not always followed by effective action, thus hate speech, stereotyping and discrimination of minorities were common in certain sectors of the European press;
- media culture and acceptable language varied significantly across Europe;
- national environments in many of the eight countries are defined by extremely competitive markets and these media only selectively engage with self-monitoring media bodies.
The report recommends five principles and practices in support of fair, informative and inclusive reporting on migration:
- inclusion of diverse voices, which aims to support mainstream media’s efforts to have refugees as speakers in stories, not just as subjects spoken about;
- contextualising the reasons behind refugee and migrant mobility towards Europe;
- recognition of refugee journalists and refugee communication rights;
- benefit from digital resources against hate speech;
- learn from research on media coverage of the global migration and refugee crisis.
The full report in English is available here.