Saturday, June 16, 2018

Media Misrepresentation on Migrants

Mainstream media are facing mounting criticism over the coverage of crime stories involving refugee and migrant suspects. Media analyst Kai Hafez told DW that the coverage reveals Germany's unexamined biases.

Recent cases in Wiesbaden, Kandel and Freiburg where young girls and women were murdered sparked outrage in Germany and were widely covered by the media. The nationality of the suspects became a central aspect of many of the reports, although German press code advises journalists only to mention ethnicity sparingly, if at all, in crime stories. We are only interested in refugees and migrants when it comes to big problems like terrorism and crime. There are exceptions to the rule, but a large part of it is negative. And the problem from an ethical point of view is that the ethnicity or the religious background of a person usually is not connected to the crime. Statistically, migrants in Germany are not more criminal than the rest of the population — so why identify a person in terms of ethnic background? 

 In many cases the German press code regulation is not adhered to and we see a constant violation of such norms and media ethics in our daily reporting. We have a loss of professional control, we have a loss of professional values. It seems to be OK nowadays to ethnicize events rather than to reflect whether this is fair. It's actually a specific form of racism — latent racism.  If people are constantly bombarded with messages of crimes committed by asylum-seekers and migrants, there's a high probability that they will tend to think that migrants are more criminal than the rest of society, which is not the case.

When it comes to migration, negative issues are more often covered than positive issues. If everything is OK, then migrants are not covered. If something is wrong, they're covered.

No comments: