Contrary to many of its neighbours in the Southern Mediterranean, Morocco is well advanced in the institutional recognition of migration. In 2013, the kingdom adopted a national strategy for immigration and asylum, which includes also provisions for the media.
The establishment of a network of associations defending migrants and the emergence of quality journalism in the French language press went hand in hand with the government support for projects for migrant communities, civil society and the media.
“The royal interest in the new migration policy, along with the government’s involvement in implementing the policy in record time, bought “migration” under the spotlight. From being “invisible” population for many public media, migrants went on to becoming trendy topic for all private and public newspapers”, a new study on migration coverage by the media stresses.
But that was back in 2013. Today the situation has changed, the study How Does the Media on Both Sides of the Mediterranean Report on Migration uncovers.
The report is examining the media attitudes towards migration phenomenon in the 17 European Neighbourhood countries and some EU member states. It was commissioned by the EUROMED Migration IV and funded by the Directorate General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the EU. The Ethical Journalism Network conducted the research in 2015 and 2016 throughout observations of 17 professional journalists.
Only few print and online media in Morocco today write on irregular migration or notice the numerous refugees and asylum-seekers residing in the country. Just a handful of newspapers and websites (Yabilady, Liberation, Telquel, Hespress) are publishing regularly on migration related issues.
“The risk is that the subject is forgotten or left aside”, due to lack of competent journalists, knowledge of terminology and understanding of the complexity of migration phenomenon, the study warns.
The reason for the retreat could lay in the fact that four years after its adoption, the government’s strategy on migrants has still to deliver on cornerstone issues like the legislative reform, the migrants’ access to healthcare and education, as well as the measures to improve media reporting on migration.
Despite the relatively more favourable environment, comparing to some neighbouring counties, problems in the coverage of migration in Morocco can be identified especially when it comes to the attitude towards migrants.
Although hate speech is not commonplace, sensationalism, stereotypes and simplification are trending in the migration coverage. The report suggests “more attention to the day-to-day realities” of migrants lives, could put them back on the picture.
Similarly to Algeria and Tunisia, there is no common approach on migration at the outlets’ managerial and editorial level. Instead the subject receives a “case-by-case treatment depending on the media agenda”, the study argues.
The interest in migration reporting is sporadic and is heavily dependent on the events and campaigns organised by authorities or international organisations. Media reports are focused on the news side, do not seek the viewpoints of people concerned, leaving the migrants stories untold.
The report notes “almost total absence of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers as sources” of information and their replacement by the spokespersons of the NGOs and foreign organisations dealing with migrants’ rights and needs.
Adjusting to the new situation of Morocco which is no longer only a transit country for migrants is still the biggest challenge for the media which keeps portraying them “solely in terms of transit or invasion”.
How Does the Media on the Both Sides of the Mediterranean Report on Migration (Summary)
Chapter on Morocco: The Invisible People who Should Take their Place on the Media Stage
Report: Migration Coverage in Tunisia Fails to Go Beyond Tales of Woe
Migrants: Still Invisible for the Media in Algeria