“Migrants, Terror and the media: reporting and responsibilities on the front line” –難民問題とメディア報道の責務-

2016-02-11 19.03.12The panel discussion organized by the London Press Club and the POLIS (Media Think tank of London School of Economics) revealed the audience what and how the journalists covering the story of mass migration of people (refugees) toward European countries are actually thinking and feeling.  They all shared interests and passion, motivation in telling the story. This is obvious as journalists. But at the same time, they seemed like trying to keep the balance of their inner conflicts; the mind of a journalist and a human, distinguishing good/bad migrants or not, listening or not listening to the negative comments, fight or cope with the far-right.

ロンドン・プレス・クラブとLSEのシンクタンクPOLISが2月11日に合同開催したパネルディスカッション「Migrants, Terror and the media: reporting and responsibilities on the front line」は、難民・移民の欧州大量流入を報道するジャーナリストが実際にどんなことを考え、感じているかを知る機会となった。パネリストは全員、当然のことながら、伝えることへの情熱や意欲、興味関心を共有していた。と同時に、ジャーナリストとしての自分と1人の人間としての自分、難民の善し悪しを決めつけるかどうか、ネガティブな意見に耳を貸すか貸さないか、極右的な流れと戦うか向き合うか、といった葛藤の中でバランスを取ろうとしているようにも見えた。

Panels say when reporting the humanitarian crisis story, it is essential to “Humanize” it. Instead of just listing the number of people involved or summarizing the broad idea of what is going on, it should also have personal stories to bring sympathy, make audience feel that the issue relates to all human. The current migrants/refugees issue also needs to be treated as the story of human race, part of THE HISTORY.


One of the panel described how the reaction of his twitter account audience changed since early September to post-Paris terrorist attack. He found 80% of comments were positive when migrants who were stuck at Hungarian border kept their way to Austrian border. Then, as the migrants reach closer to UK, 80% became negative. Then after the Paris attack, though it was done by ISIS, extreme terrorist rather than migrants/refugees fled to Europe, some people started attacking journalist with their “Fear toward THE OTHER.”


What these journalists are afraid is the rise of fear among European people toward the migrants/refugees coming as a mass, and fear-mongering social media contents shaping people’s mindset in negative way and toward far-right. Social media is quite influential as it can be shared very quickly and can reach mass audiences who have similar thoughts, even though it is not taken as the mainstream media. The social media contents can be false and lie but no one really does the fact check,



Then, what is the role of media?



The journalists say they will not and cannot draw lines of what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, no one knows whose policy is right and which measure should be done.  Migrants/refugees have millions of different reasons and motivations to walk toward their “Promised land.” One can be innocent and the other can be nasty. But one panel’s comment hit the point: “These people are not all heavenly creatures, but they have right to live.” It is nearly impossible to distinguish who is so called economic migrants and who is qualified for refugees when there are millions of them; many are in gray zone.


The people with fear may attack migrants/refugees, volunteers, and even journalists covering the story. However, journalists should face with these negative sentiments, ask why, dig into the reasons behind and let the people aware of it. Also, by following and telling all the facts and stories, journalists will let people be aware of the situation and lead to possible answers and solutions.



The podcast for the panel discussion is here. (講演のポッドキャスト)

The page of London Press Club is here.(ロンドン・プレス・クラブのページ)





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