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.
Mixed Messages as Media Cope with Internal Stress and External Pressure
With Lebanese media mired in dysfunctional domestic politics, facing regional security threats and international upheavals, and troubled by their own shaky existence, it is no surprise that there has been a hodgepodge of migration coverage since 2015.
Although glossaries of migrant-related terminology – provided by international organisations and NGOs – exist, journalists covering the story still use terms like “migrant,” “refugee” and “settler” incorrectly and interchangeably.
Glossaries are not always updated fast enough to keep up with the media’s needs, and not necessarily available in the three main languages used in Lebanese news outlets: Arabic, French and English. Statistics are a tricky topic.
The government’s figures on the number of Syrian refugees and migrants may vary from those of international organisations and United Nations agencies tasked with registering asylum seekers. A sticking point is the number of undocumented residents who slip undetected across borders, evade aid agency safety nets, and disappear through the cracks of bureaucracy. Lebanon is not a signatory to the 1951 UN convention on “non-refoulement,” or not sending refugees away once they arrive.