This is a Chapter of the Study “How does the media on both sides of the Mediterranean report on migration?” carried out and prepared by the Ethical Journalism Network and commissioned in the framework of EUROMED Migration IV – a project, financed by the European Union and implemented by ICMPD. © European Union, 2017.
“We Can Do It”: A Test of Media Solidarity and Political Nerve over Migration
Michaela Maria Müller
Before the beginning of the refugee crisis in summer 2015, reporting in the German media on migration and refugees was neither coherent nor comprehensive. In terms of sheer numbers, approximately 15,000 news items about refugees were published between 2009 and 2015, according to a study by the Hamburg Media School.
Following the sinking of a boat in the Mediterranean, one narrative predominated: The event was described from the start as a “tragedy.” As the story developed, journalists covered the numbers of victims, their countries of origin, and suspected causes of the disaster.
In-depth investigations into the reasons for migration, however, were absent in the media. This may be attributed to the fact that migration and refugees were treated exclusively as problems for Europe’s external borders, while their domestic political import was ignored – a perspective that in retrospect has proven to be shortsighted.
That changed in 2015. The number of reports in the media rapidly increased. In that year alone more than 19,000 news reports were published. Between July and September 2015, during the height of the refugee crisis, some newspapers published up to seven articles per day.