European Migration and Diversity

Immigration, Integration and Asylum Forum

Public perceptions about minorities and immigrants: the role of the media

31 May 2011

Oliver Money-Kyrle, Assistant General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, said that without quality working conditions it is difficult for journalists to produce quality, ethical journalism. The way media deals with migration issues does affect public perception and journalists need to be conscious of how the story they are working on impacts on community relations and public perception. The perception that media coverage has deteriorated has to be seen in the context of the broader political and economic crisis. The EU security industry is receiving huge sums of money to develop new instruments and new surveillance techniques, and politicians justify this investment with a strong narrative of insecurity and threat. Public policymakers need to respond to disinvestment in journalism across Europe, and recognise that journalism is a public good, essential for democracy. Governments must intervene to create new conditions to ensure the continuity of the public good of journalism across Europe.

Raymon Dassi, Journalist and Member of Italian Intercultural Journalists Association, said that in Italy the perception of immigrants and minorities lies between truth and falsehood - there have been three media paradigms on migration over the past three decades. In the 90s the main story was invasion by immigrants from Albania, in the 00s crime emanating from immigrants, and in 2010 the effect of immigrants on public services. The political message to society is that Italians are last to benefit in their own country. Over the years there have been two consistent and contrasting perceptions: immigrants are a problem, and immigrants are human beings. Resolving this dualism is an opportunity for European freedom. Intercultural journalism will be a major innovation in the field of journalism during the next decades as immigrants’ consciousness grows.

Alexandra Moe, Washington DC Director of New America Media, said that the combined circlation of ethnic media in California is far greater than traditional media. The role of the ethnic media and how immigrants are being portrayed in the mainstream media is changing as immigrants are seen as a political force. In the US the main public media is more polarised than ever before. The voice for immigrants has been the ethnic media, which enables the concerns of immigrant communities to be told, but how can ethnic media inject the concerns of their audience into the mainstream media? US politicians are beginning to understand that they cannot move forward wiithout appealing to the Spanish language audience in the US.

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