Press Release: ​Migration: Global Report on Journalism’s Biggest Test in 2015

Moving Stories International Review of How Media Cover Migration

Press Release | Foreword | Introduction | Recommendations

An international report on media and the global migration and refugee crisis, issued today to coincide with International Migrants Day (December 18), says journalists often fail to tell the full story and routinely fall into propaganda traps laid by politicians.

The report, Moving Stories, is published by the Ethical Journalism Network and reviews media coverage of migration in the European Union and in 14 countries across the globe.

“Around the world media coverage is often politically led with journalists following an agenda dominated by loose language and talk of invasion and swarms,” said Aidan White, EJN Director. “But at other moments the story is laced with humanity, empathy and a focus on the suffering of those involved.”

The 100-page report highlights

    Missed Opportunities: How journalists and media in Europe failed to raise the alarm about an imminent influx of refugees fleeing war in Syria and Iraq, even though the story was there to be told a year before the crisis broke in 2015;

    Hate-Speech: How outrageous anti-migrant or anti-Muslim statements by politicians like Donald Trump in the United States and some European leaders fuelled increasing public concern and hijacked media coverage;

    Falling Standards: How media fail to provide detailed and reliable information about the refugee crisis because of a lack of editorial resources or the presence of well-informed journalists able to provide in-depth and sensitive reporting;

    Sensationalism: How much journalism is driven by hyperbole, intolerance and distortion with media in confusion over what are the correct terms to use to describe migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers.

Download the full report here.

To counter these problems, the report recommends that news media take urgent action to appoint specialist reporters to the migration beat. It also calls for industry wide and in-house training on migration issues and problems of hate-speech; improved links with migrant and refugee groups; and more employment of journalists from ethnic minority communities to strengthen diversity in newsrooms.

The report highlights how media coverage, much of it negative and focused on numbers of migrants on the move, took a dramatic turn with the death of Alan Kurdi and the publication of pictures of his body on a beach in Turkey. From that moment journalism woke up to the human tragedy within the migration story.

Moving Stories Foreword: Beyond the headlines - Jan Egeland

In his foreword to the report Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, sums up the challenge facing media: “It is not just a lack of humanity on the news agenda or a matter of luck or a matter of caring more about some people at the expense of others,” he says. “We need a broader lens to see what really is going on.”

The lack of a wider perspective often leads media to miss the link between migration and human development. Journalists often ignore the evidence of serious studies that illustrate how migration, despite short-term challenges, is invariably beneficial for economic and cultural development in the longer-term.

The reports states: “There is a tendency, both among many politicians and in sections of the mainstream media, to lump migrants together and present them as a seemingly endless tide of people who will steal jobs, become a burden on the state and ultimately threaten the native way of life. Such reporting is not only wrong; it is also dishonest. Migrants often bring enormous benefits to their adopted countries.”

The report examines media coverage in a diverse range of countries. From Australia, a country built by migrants, where media struggle to apply well-meaning codes of journalistic practice within a toxic political climate to Nepal and the Gambia which are exporters of labour. In these countries censorship or a lack of resources - or a combination of both - are mainly to blame for poor coverage.

The reports on migration in China, India and Brazil tell another story. Though large numbers of people migrate from each of these countries, the main focus is on internal migration, a global phenomenon often ignored by mainstream media that involves millions and dwarfs international migration numbers. The biggest movement of people in history has taken place in China over the last 35 years.

Download the full report here.

In Africa while headlines focus on people leaving the continent and heading north, there is also migration between countries, with many people from the impoverished central regions heading for South Africa – a country where media also deal with problems of xenophobia and governmental pressure.

In Europe, where migration and refugee issues have shaken the tree of European unity, media struggle to provide balanced coverage when political leaders respond with a mix of bigotry and panic – some announcing they will only take in Christian migrants while others plan to establish walls and razor wire fences. The report looks at Bulgaria where media have allowed sensationalism to dominate migration reporting and Italy, where hate-speech is counterbalanced by a purpose-built ethical charter for media. In Britain the report notes how the story is often told without a sense of scale or balance with extensive reporting on the plight of people at a small refugee camp in Calais.

In Turkey, seen by many European politicians as a key country in stemming the onward rush of migrants, most media are under the thumb of a government that punishes dissident journalists, so public debate is limited. In Lebanon where millions of refugees from war-torn Syria are based the story is not helped by confused mixing of fact and opinion by many media.

In the United States the controversial Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has made migration an explosive topic. Media time has focused on heated and often racist exchanges which obscures some fine journalism that provides much-needed context. South of the border, media in Mexico suffer from undue political pressure and self-censorship.

“The refugee crisis is not going to go away,” says White “and there has never been a greater need for useful and reliable intelligence on the complexities of migration. But if that is to happen, as this report shows, we must strengthen the craft of journalism.”

-- ENDS –

Download the full report here.

Moving Stories - International Review of How Media Cover Migration by Ethical Journalism Network

For further information contact:

About the Ethical Journalism Network

The Ethical Journalism Network is an unprecedented effort to promote an ethical renaissance based on transparency, self-regulation and good governance.

The Ethical Journalism Network promotes ethics, good governance and independent regulation of media content. The EJN was formed in 2011 as a unifying professional campaign bringing together owners, editors and media staff to strengthen the craft of journalism. It works across all platforms and supports partnership at national and international level between media, journalism support groups and the public.


Social media: @EJNetwork -- Facebook -- LinkedIn -- Flickr -- Youtube

For this report we will be using the hashtag #MovingStories as well as #MigrantsDay.

Previous EJN reports

Contributors who may be available for interview

The View from Brussels: Missed opportunities to call the European Union to account,Tony Bunyan is an investigative journalist and writer. Tony specialises in justice and home affairs, civil liberties, the state and freedom of information in the EU and has been the Director of Statewatch since 1991. The newspaper “European Voice” selected him as one of the “EV50” – one of the fifty most influential people in the European Union and he has also been given a Liberty Human Rights Award.

Bulgaria - A study in media Sensationalism. Rossen Bossev is journalist at Capital Weekly in Sofia, Bulgaria. He writes on judiciary, law enforcement and human rights issues. He was twice awarded at the International Right to Know Day for his use of the freedom of information act in his investigations. Maria Cheresehva is a communications expert and freelance journalist. She works voluntarily for providing humanitarian and integration support to refugees and migrants, she is a campaigner for human rights. She has been an editor in ENTERPRISE, Infostock and Evropa.

Italy - A charter for tolerant journalism: Media take centre stage in the Mediterranean drama. Yasha Maccanico has been a researcher, reporting on civil liberties developments in southwestern Europe for Statewatch since 1998. He is currently a PhD candidate in Policy Studies at the University of Bristol.

Turkey - Media under the government’s thumb and migrants in a legislative limbo. Elif Ince (writer) is an Istanbul based journalist whose reporting on urban and environmental issues has received various awards. A graduate of Brown and Columbia University School of Journalism, she is the co-founder of Networks of Dispossession ( – a collective data mapping project dedicated to investigate the relations between capital and power in Turkey.

United Kingdom - How journalism plays follow-my-leader in the rhetoric of negativity. Zak Suffee is a Researcher at Statewatch on Justice and Home Affairs. She is also currently undertaking a doctorate degree in Race and Migration at Kings College London. She has worked extensively in communications and media as well as migration and policy.

Australia - In a nation of migrants the media faces its own identity crisis. Christopher Warren is an Australian journalist whose family migrated to Australia between 1820 and 1910. He is currently affiliated with the JSK journalism program at Stanford University. He is the former Federal Secretary of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (Australia) and immediate past President of the International Federation of Journalists. President of the International Federation of Journalists.

Brazil - Where politics takes precedence over the people who make it. Jan Rocha, based in Sao Paolo, is a former correspondent for the Guardian and the BBC WorldService. She has lived in Brazil for many years and has written several books about the country. Jan has an intimate knowledge of Brazil having travelled extensively around the country. She is particularly involved in labour and environmental matters and has monitored the movement of workers and the continued expansion of settlements in the Amazonian region.

China - An inside story: China’s invisible and ignored migrant workforce. Violet Law is a Hong Kong based journalist who has written for the Los Angeles Times and other US newspapers Fluent in both Mandarin and English, Violet has reported widely on political, social and economic affairs in China. She reported in detail on the recent protests in Hong Kong concerning Beijing’s influence on affairs in the territory and closely monitors demographic changes in both China and Hong Kong.

West Africa: The Gambia - Desperate young take the backway to an uncertain future. Lamin Jaiteh has been a journalist and broadcaster for 17 years. He worked for Gambia Radio and TV Services from 1998-2006. He is now a freelance journalist,based in London, UK. He also produces a weekly TV programme-(InterfaceGambia TV) on BEN Television on SKY channel 182.

India - How missing facts and context is toxic for media coverage. Pramila Krishnan, based in Chennai, Southern India, hosts a weekly show on TV News 7 Tamil that focuses on social issues. She also works on film documentaries and on current affairs news stories. Primila has contributed to a number of newspapers and magazines in the southern India region, mainly writing on social and environmental issues. She is a regular contributor to Climate News Network, a web based news agency. www.climatenewsnetwork.

Lebanon - Lebanon’s media put humanity in the mix as the refugee crisistakes hold. Magda Abu-Fadil is Media Unlimited director and consultant veteran foreign correspondent/editor who worked with Agence France-Presse, United PressInternational, Asharq Al-Awsat, Al Riyadh, Defense News, Events and The Middle East. She founded the Journalism Training Program at the American University of Beirut. She blogs for the Huffington Post.

Mexico - Shallow journalism in a land wherepolitical bias rules the newsroom. Elva Narcia is a media development specialist with professional work experience in Norway, Spain, UK, Mexico, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and SouthSudan. She is the founder and director general of Glifos Comunicaciones, the first media for development communications agency in Latin America. For 15 years previously was an award winner Senior Journalist with the BBC World Service.

Nepal - Information gaps fail to keep track of a country on the move. Om Astha Rai writes mainly for the Kathmandu based Nepali Times. He covers current affairs, the environment, climate change and migration: he recently won a national prize for a story on the mental problems suffered by returning Nepali migrant workers.

South Africa - Compelling tales of afrophobia and media selective blindness. Anton Harber is the Caxton Professor of Journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He was founder-editor of the anti-apartheid newspaper the Weekly Mail (now the Mail & Guardian). He is chair of the Freedom of Expression Institute, board member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network, and writes a column in Business Day. He is the author of Diepsloot (Jonathan Ball, 2011).

United States - The Trump Card: How US news media dealt with a migrant hate manifesto. Bill Orme is a strategic communications advisor and former journalist, who has covered immigration issues as a correspondent in Mexico for The Washington Post and The Economist and in the Middle East for The New York Times. He was executive director of the Committeeto Protect Journalists (CPJ) in the 1990s and over thepast decade as external communications chief for theUnited Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Heis currently the UN Representative of the Brussels-basedGlobal Forum for Media Development (GFMD).

Download the full report here.

comments powered by Disqus
ABU, AP, ARD, ARTICLE 19, Accountable Journalism, Afghan Journalists Federation, Afghanistan, Afghanistan Journalists Centre, Africa, Africa e Mediterraneo and Lai-momo Summer School, Agence France-Presse (AFP), Ahmad Quraishi, Ahmet Altan, Aidan White, Aiding Law enforcement, Alan Yuhas, Albania, Ali Sonboly, Aljazeera, Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Anders Breivik, Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights, Anti-Semitism, Arabic, Ashok Gupta, Ashraf Ghani, Asia, Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, Associated Reporters Abroad, Association of Commercial Television, Australia, Aylan Kurdi, BBC, BBC Radio London, BBC World Service, Balkans, Barcelona, Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture (CCCB), Being first, Belgium, Billy Russell, Bob Geldof, Boris Johnson, Bosnia, Boston Marathon bomber, Bottom-line decisions, Brazil, Brexit, Broadcast, Brussels, Brussels Terror Attacks 2016, Bulgaria, Burma, Buzzfeed, CIMA, Can Dündar, Carles Torner, Central Asia, Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CPMF), Ceren Sözeri, Channel 4, Charlie Beckett, Charlie Hebdo, Charter of Rome, Child Rights International Network (CRIN), China, Chris Elliott, Christopher Kremmer, Church Action on Poverty, City University London, Climate News Network, Comedy, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Conference, Conflict, Conservative Party, Consorci Universitat Internacional Menéndez Pelayo de Barcelona (UIMP Barcelona – Centre Ernest Lluch), Controversial photos, Council of Media Ethics of Macedonia (CMEM), Covering politics, Crimea, Croatia, Cumhuriyet - Turkey, Darfur, Dart Center, David Cameron, David Jordan, Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Denmark, Director's Letter, Donald Trump, Dorothy Byrne, Dr. Zahera Harb, Dunja Mijatovic, EJN Annual Report, EJN Board, EJN International Collaborators, EJN Secretariat, EJN activities, EJN member, EJN participation, EJN report, Earthquakes, Editorial Guidelines, Egypt, Elliot Cass, English, English PEN, Erdem Gül, Eric Baradat, Eric Wishart, Erol Önderoğlu, Ethical Journalism, Ethical Journalism for Free Expression, Ethical Journalism in Action, Ethiopia, Europe, European Commission, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), European Magazine Media Association, European Media and Information Literacy Forum, European Press Prize, European Union, European University Institute (EUI), Evening Standard, Facebook, Fatumo Farah, Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), Film, Finland, First Amendment Award, Founding EJN member, Fox News, France, Franco-Prussian War, Frans Timmermans, GFMD, Gambia, Gary Younge, Gaza, Geir Terje Ruud, George W. Bush, German PEN, Germany, Getting the story, Gezi Park, Giles Duley, Global Editors Network (GEN), Google, Haim Shibi, Handling sources, Helena Webb, Huffington Post, Human Rights, Humanitarianism, Hungary, Hürriyet - Turkey, IFEX, IPI World Congress, ISIS, Iceland, Independent Association of Egyptian Editors, Independent Press Standards Organisation, Index on Censorship, India, Indonesia, Indonesia;, Indonesian Press Council, Indonesian Press Council (IPC), Institute of the Mediterranean, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Journalism Festival, International Media Ethics Day, International Press Institute (IPI), International Women's Day, Invading privacy, Iran, Israel, Israeli Federation of Journalists, Italy, Jackie Cox, Jakarta, James Copnall, James Rodgers, Jan Egeland, Jane Lydon, Jean-Paul Mathoz, Jerusalem Association of Journalists, Jerusalem Post, John Oliver, Jon Snow, Jordan, Jordan Media Institute, Journalist, Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Justice and Development Party - Turkey, Jyllands Posten, Katie Hopkins, Katie Morris, Keith Somerville, Ken Clarke, Kieran Cooke, Kigali, Kosovo, Lampedusa, Latin America, Latvia, Le Monde, Le Siècle, Lebanon, Leveson, Liat Collins, Lindsey Hilsum, Live Streaming, London Press Club, London School of Economics (LSE), Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), L’Osservatore Romano, Macedonia, Macedonian School of Journalism and Public Relations (SJPR), Malta, Manning, Mare Nostrum, Marina Jirotka, Mark Doyle, Marta Foresti, Martin Plaut, Matt Frei, Matthew Price, Media & Learning, Media Diversity Institute, Media Literacy, Media and Information Literacy, Media and migration, Mediterranean, Megan Howe, Mehmet Baransu, Melanie Gouby, Mexico, Miami Herald, Michael Jetter, Middle East, Military issues, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, Mohammed Jamjoom, Montenegro, Moving Stories, Myanmar, NGO, NLA University College (Gimlekollen) Kristiansand, NPR, Naming newsmakers, Nasser Abubaker, National Broadcasting Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) Thailand, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) -UK, Natural Disasters, Neil Thurman, Nepal, New York, New York Times, Niangara massacre, Nice, Nigeria, No Borders Project, North America, Norway, Norwegian, Norwegian Institute for Journalism, Norwegian Refugee Council, ONA, ONO, Ofcom, Oficina Antifrau de Catalunya, Ombudsmen, Oona Solberg, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Organisation of News Ombudsmen, Overseas Development Institute, PEN America, PEN International, Pakistan, Pakistan Coalition for Ethical Journalism, Palestine, Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Panama, Panama Papers, Paris, Partners Working In Collaboration With the EJN, Peter Greste, Peter Sullivan, Phepchai Yong, Philippines, Pierluigi Musarò, Platform for Independent Journalism (P24), Polis, Pope Francis, Poynter, Prayuth Chan-Ocha, Press Complaints Commission, Press Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Press Council of Kosovo (PCK), Press Council of Serbia, Press Council of Thailand, Press Safety, Privy Council, Racheal Nakitare, Rachel Broady, Radio, Randi S. Øgrey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Reddit, Regulation, Reporters without Borders, Reporters’ Academy, Ricardo Gutierrez, Richard Gutjahr, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Rory Peck Trust, Rossalyn Warren, Royal Charters, Russia, Rwanda, SPJ, Samantha Bee, Sarajevo, Satire, Save the Children, Secret Filming, Self-cencorship, Sensationalism, Sensitive news topics, Serbia, Shaike Komornik, Shami Chakrabarti, Sian Jones, Singapore, Sky News, Snowden, Social Action Centre - Ukraine, Society of Professional Journalists Ethics Code, Soft Censorship, South Africa, South America, South East Europe Media Organisation, South East European Network for Professionalization of the Media, South Eastern Europe, South Sudan, Spain, Sr. Rogelio Grajal, Statewatch, Stephen JA Ward, Steven Livingston, Sudan, Sulome Anderson, Supinya Klangnarong, Sweden, Swedish PEN, Syria, TV, Taraf newspaper - Turkey, Texas A&M University, Thai Association of Journalists, Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, Thailand, The Conversation, The Eagle Tribune, The Guardian, The Independent, The Society of Professional Journalists, The Sun, The Telegraph, The Vatican, Thomas Spence, Tom Law, Transparency International, Tuncay Opçin, Tunisia, Turkey, Twitter, Typhoons, UK, UN, UN Alliance of Civilisations, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), UNESCO, UNESCO IPDC, UNICEF, US, US Elections 2016, USA, USA Today, Uganda, Ukraine, Ukrainian, United Kingdom, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United States, University of Bologna, University of Western Australia, Untold Stories, Veerender Jubbal, Victoria Craw, Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB), WAN-IFRA, Wanchai Danaitamonut, Whistleblowing, Wikileaks, William Wintercross, Workplace issues, World Press Freedom Day, World Radio Day, Yasemin Çongar, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Zalmaï, accountability, accuracy, advertising, anonymous comments, automation, bias, blasphemy, blog, breaking news, business model, canada, cartoons, censorship, climate change, code of ethics, comments, complaints, corrections, corruption, credibility, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, data protection, data-driven journalism, democracy, digital, draft law, e European Magazine Media Association, election, ethical journalism weekly roundup, ethics, events, fact checking, fairness, false news, freedom of expression, gender, global ethics, globalism, good news, governance, handbook, hate speech, identity, impunity, infographic, internet, investigative reporting, journalism, journalism training, journalist safety, journalistic methods, journalists in exile, law, legal, libel, media, media audit, media development, media ethics, media ethics and children, media law, migrants, migration, mobile, moderation,, newspapers, objectivity, ombudsman, open journalism, ownership, paid content, photo journalism, pluralism, poverty, press council, press freedom, press release, propaganda, public editor, public interest, public opinion, public trust, readers’ editor, refugee crisis, refugees, reliability, religion, representation, rhetoric, right to be forgotten, right to information, robot journalism, rumours, self regulation, self-regulation, shield law, social media, standards, statements, style guide, suicide, surveys, technology, terrorism, transparency, trolls, turning the page of hate, verification, video, vulgarities, war, women, İpek Yezdani, ​Jennifer Mercieca