Migrants enjoy a generally positive coverage in both state owned and private media in Egypt, a new report on media attitudes towards migration in the Mediterranean shows.
The vast majority of media coverage paints an overwhelmingly positive picture of the Egyptian state in its dealing with issues of migration”, the analysis asserts, adding human interest stories about migrants’ successful integration are leading media outlets’ attention.
This runs counter to criticism by international organisations and opposition press outlets (almost exclusively based outside Egypt) over the way the country has dealt with migrants.
The study How Does the Media on Both Sides of the Mediterranean Report on Migration exams 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 Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the EU. The Ethical Journalism Network conducted the research in 2015 and 2016 throughout observations of 17 professional journalists.
Since 2015 a relatively consistent narrative can be observed in the mainstream media both on migration issues and on related events. However, migration is not at the top of the editorial agenda and some migration issues are only covered in the context of other reporting.
State media tend to report less on migration. The commercial outlets are taking the lead on the subject, covering the issue regularly, both from national and international perspective, the study observes.
At the same time state media seem to be more interested on reporting the government and other institutions activities and messages. They are more likely to take upon also on the financial burden for Egypt and the efforts to integrate migrants. An example of such coverage are articles on Egypt’s decision not to create refugee camps.
With the spike of migration in Egypt in the recent years, the focus is on stories about refugees’ living conditions and inclusion in the Egyptian society. Over five million refugees and economic migrants are currently living in Egypt which has a population of 93 million. Of those four million come from Africa.
Syrians are object of the greatest media attention and are getting the most positive reporting with stories of human interest, highlighting their success. Part of this narrative is hailing the country’s policies toward migrants and their gratitude for the given hospitality.
At the same time, Egyptian emigration to Europe is rarely covered. In rare cases of questioning the official line media have asked if Syrians are indeed so happy in Egypt, why are so many Egyptians trying to leave the country.
Stereotyping migrants by nationality has also been identified as problem of the journalistic coverage with Syrian refugees prevailing over the numerous Africans, who are more invisible for the media and sometimes a subject of hate speech.
Illegal immigrants, on the other hand, are treated less favourably by journalists who tend to centre more on the authorities’ actions against trafficking and criminal activities.
This approach „often raises question about the editorial motives, the journalistic ethics at work and the level of professionalism in the local media industry”, the study says.
Another point of media attention is the heavy economic burden on Egypt to accommodate migrants and the lack of international response to the country’s needs.
“This type of coverage has tended to be more sensationalist in tone and generally framed the migration issue in the context of national security rather than as a matter of humanitarian concern”, the analysis says.
Investigative journalism focuses on migration coverage much less frequently. The challenges and risks faced by migrants and especially human organ trade are among the main topics attracting media interest.
According to the report the current media stand on migration is shaped by four factors: self-censorship, which is identified as a growing issue; the increasingly uniform media landscape; professional shortages among the journalists and editors and the insufficient media regulation.
“While there appears to be a reduction in the hate speech and discriminatory reporting, more work needs to be done to ensure transparency and representation of migrant voices in the Egyptian media… The coverage of migration could be vastly improved if there were more narrative accounts that better represent the actual migrant populations living or moving through the country”, the reports recommends in conclusion.
Report: How the Media on Both Sides of Mediterranean Report on Migration (Summary)
Chapter on Egypt: Positive Stories but Questions Remain over Self-Censorship and Lack of In-Depth Coverage
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