Invisible voices: findings from Refugees Reporting research

The results of the Refugees Reporting project’s research found that 92% of UK news items on asylum and migration neither identify an individual refugee or migrant nor include their voice or experience.

Across the seven European countries that were studied in this initial research, the UK was lowest with just 8% of news items on asylum and migration referencing a refugee or migrant.

In contrast, 36% of such stories in Italy references an individual refugee or migrant, 34% in Spain, 31% in Sweden, 30% in Norway, 23% in Greece and 100% of media stories found in Serbia. (This may be partly due to a preponderance of stories that focus on national legislation.)

Other groups of people were even more invisible with only 1 in 6 of the stories referencing individual migrants referring to a woman.

Citizens from West Africa (including Nigeria) were present in only 2% of articles analysed for this research, greatly out of proportion compared with the proportion of West African migrants that are arriving in Europe.

Across the seven countries surveyed, the research positively found that the words and phrases ‘refugee’, ‘asylum seeker’ and ‘migrant’ outnumbered ‘illegal migrant’.

The Refugees Reporting research project was a year long project to assess the media representation of refugees in Europe, highlight media best practice, and develop action plans to promote the rights of refugees to communicate on their own behalf. It was coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) Europe and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME).

Paper and online news outlets were surveyed by teams in each country on three agreed weekdays.

As well as recommendations for media professionals, news organisations and civil society groups working with refugees and migrants, the results – which were published today (summary and full report) – include a call for everyone to “work together to change the narrative in Europe from ‘crisis’ to ‘opportunity, from ‘faceless floods’ to individual people each with their own story, hopes and capacities”.

The full launch press conference can be replayed online.