If I had had that argument to hand, I may have been able to make a more convincing case to those who remained sceptical and have a better response to what, in hindsight, seem quite reductive reactions: “So you want me to cover the planes that land safely, rather than the one that crashes?”
Many fellows did embrace the concept. Laura Secorun Palet’s op-ed in the New York Times addressed not only the legal and logistical reforms needed to improve the rights of migrant workers but also made it clear that “to eradicate forced domestic labor, we must confront the rampant prejudice behind it.”
The article points to the work of NGOs and efforts of migrant women to unionise and become leading voices fighting for their own rights. It also gave examples of ethical recruitment practice as an alternative to the many unscrupulous companies that encourage vulnerable people to leave their families with promises that they cannot or do not intend to keep.
Journalism like Laura’s does not shy away from the mistreatment of migrant workers, but it also gives examples of practical solutions and initiatives that can be an inspiration for governments, activists and migrants. We have to shine a light on how problems can be addressed, not just human suffering and injustices. Providing one without the other does a disservice to our audiences and those whose lives we are reporting on.
The EJN/ILO Labour Migration Fellowship
The EJN’s fellowship programme with the International Labour Organization has run since 2017, supporting journalists who are reporting on labour migration in Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf States.
The fellowships are part of the ILO’s Regional Fair Migration Project in the Middle East (FAIRWAY) which works to promote fair migration (including fair recruitment) and eliminate forced labour and trafficking for labour exploitation.
Over 20 journalists have taken part in the programme, conducting investigations, producing podcasts series and writing op-eds in publications as diverse as the Jordan Times to the New York Times, from BBC World Service Radio to Arabic podcast startup – SOWT and much else besides.
To read all the stories produced in the fellowship, see:
Tom Law is the deputy director of the EJN, which he joined in 2015 to lead the organisation’s international media ethics campaigns and educational programmes. Prior to joining the EJN Law worked as a freelance journalist and media development consultant specialising in Sudan and South Sudan and for four years was an associate editor of Sudan Tribune news website. In 2005 he was part of the team that founded The Juba Post – an independent newspaper for South Sudan.