Ethical Journalism Network releases new guidelines for migration coverage

by Sam Berkhead
Oct 30, 2018 in Specialized Topics

In order to more directly address the challenges of reporting on migration around the world, last month the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) launched new guidelines for migration reporting during the Jakarta World Forum for Media Development.

The guide arrives in the wake of the U.N. General Assembly’s first-ever summit on refugees and migration, which sought to address the continuing issue of forced displacement. Despite world leaders pledging increased support for refugees, the summit did little to address the challenges faced by journalists when reporting on the 65 million displaced people around the world, according to EJN.

“Never has there been a greater need for fair, cool and measured reporting of the issues of migration,” said EJN board member Chris Elliott, who helped develop the guidelines. “These five basic principles form a simple set of guidelines for reporters around the world.”

EJN laid out its recommended guidelines for reporting on migration in an infographic, available as a PDF version here. The guidelines include a recommendation that journalists become familiar with migration law terminology, such as the difference between a “refugee” and an “asylum seeker,” among other points. Another recommendation is that journalists be cautious about using terms like “swarms,” “floods” or “waves” when writing about migration so as to avoid producing inflammatory content.

In December 2015, EJN’s “Moving Stories” report found that, despite some examples of excellent coverage on refugees and migrants, many journalists lean toward sensationalized, propaganda-laced narratives in lieu of balanced, objective coverage. Since then, the largest migration crisis since World War II has slowed somewhat, but continues to be a major issue facing world leaders.

Journalists and media development professionals from the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia contributed to the guidelines. In the future, additional resources to complement the guidelines may be developed, according to EJN.

The guide, released under a Creative Commons license, is free to download and share within newsrooms. It can be used both for reporting and for analyzing media coverage of migration.

Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Squat Le Monde.