Narrative Publications


Migration Narratives in Europe: Through conversations on public social media

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung commissioned Bakamo Public to conduct social media listening on the discussion
around migration in 28 member states of the European Union.

This research defines the term migrants as "people living and working outside their country of origin."*
Using this definition, the study analyzed posts and comments published within 28 EU member states on
public social media from 31 July 2017 until 1 August 2018.

The goal of the analysis was to identify Pan-European migration narratives: thematic topics that appear in
all EU member state discussions concerning migration. We aimed to compare the size of these narratives in
each country and identify regional similarities.

The research analyzed the influence of European and domestic politics on the local migration discourse,
and identified key conversation channels and overall tone of discussion for each country.



Migration Narratives in Europe - Through conversations on public social media, Bamako Public for the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2019.pdf

Media Coverage of Migrants and Refugees in Audiovisual Media

On June 28 2018, CNMC and the Mediterranean Network of Regulatory Authorities (MNRA) organized a one-day international high-level workshop on the “Informative Treatment of Mediterranean Migrant and Refugee Crisis on the Audiovisual Media”. The event was hosted by CNMC in its headquarters in Barcelona (Spain).

The aim of the conference was to carry out a public reflection on the social responsibility of media, public administrations, regulators and civil society about the coverage of the crisis and to explore collaborative responses to contribute to an objective, inclusive and impartial representation in the audiovisual media.

The discussion focused on three separate but interlinked topics: the analysis of the role of audiovisual media in shaping public attitudes towards migrants and refugees; the identification of best practices to develop collaborative responses between the relevant actors and the role of the audiovisual regulators as guarantors of fundamental rights.

The high-level workshop brought together journalists, audiovisual regulators, civil society as well as national, EU and international policy makers, seeking robust and joint responses to address media coverage of migrants and refugees in the media, and the creation of a framework for inclusive and positive responses.

The CNMC-MNRA workshop draws on the Barcelona Declaration on the Informative Treatment of Mediterranean Migrant and Refugee Crisis on the Audiovisual Media1, adopted by the MNRA on 18 November 2016.

This report brings the main discussions and conclusions of the workshop. It starts by summarizing each of the sessions. In a final section, the report provides a summary of the key conclusions and recommendations generated during the debate.

Media Coverage of Migrants and Refugees in Audiovisual Media, CNMC-MNRA, 2018.pdf

GFMD Thematic Workshop "Narratives on Migration Toward evidence-based Communication": Highlights of Proceedings

The Ecuadorian Chairmanship of 2019 comes at a timely moment for global migration governance: the magnitude of international migration and forced displacement has led the international community to address these issues at the highest political level by endorsing the two Global Compacts - one for Refugees (GCR) and the other for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) -- in December 2018.

As the GCM states in its guiding principles, "we also must provide all our citizens with access to objective, evidence-based, clear information about the benefits and challenges of migration, with a view to dispelling misleading narratives that generate negative perceptions of migrants." This highlights the need for the international community to work towards distilling evidence-based and objective information on migration and migrants.

In view thereof, the GFMD 2019 Chair Ecuador, in partnership with the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, convened the GFMD Thematic Workshop entitled “Narratives on Migration: Toward an evidence-based Communication” on 4-5 July, in Rabat, Morocco. The aim of this workshop was to initiate an open discussion, allowing a variety of stakeholders (governments, civil society, private sector, academia, media, etc.) to analyze in depth the mechanisms that shape public perceptions of migration issues. Additionally, the workshop focused on the issue of data, and its collection and analysis, in order to present the public with objective, clear and evidence-based public discourses, reflective of the reality on the ground.

The workshop convened around 150 local and international participants representing UN Member States, civil society, the private sector and international organizations.

Highlights of proceedings - GFMD Thematic Workshop 'Narratives on Migration Toward evidence-based Communication', 2019.pdf

Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants

  • Engaging effectively with public attitudes towards refugees and migrants requires understanding the real world concerns, emotions and values around which attitudes are formed.
  • These efforts work best when clearly rooted in national and local contexts, and the nuances of public attitudes within them.
  • Traditional approaches to public engagement, such as ‘myth-busting’, may have exacerbated negativity and are unlikely to resonate beyond those who are already supportive. While evidence remains important in influencing policy debates, strategies must acknowledge its limitations as a persuasive tool.
  • Emotive and value-driven arguments may have more traction than facts and evidence. Successful strategies might highlight the manageability of the situation, while emphasising shared values.

Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants, Helen Dempster and Karen Hargrave, 2017.pdf

Media Coverage of the Migration Crisis in Europe: a Confused and Polarized Narrative

There is no doubt that what has been termed the migration or refugee crisis in Europe has been framed in the public and media discourse as the defining phenomenon of the second decade of the 21st century. And there is no doubt that the media coverage of the mass movement of people escaping continuing violence and wars in the Middle East and persecution elsewhere into Europe has deflected attention from the continuing phenomenon of mass displacement – internal displacement and population movements within nation states due to persecution and natural disasters – and the flight of Syrians into Jordan, Turkey or Lebanon since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011...

Media Coverage of the Migration Crisis in Europe - a Confused and Polarized Narrative, Dina Matar, 2017.pdf


In the current global context of polarized perceptions related to immigration, there is a pressing need to counter harmful and inaccurate narratives about migration and migrants. Yet, evidence-based arguments have often failed to resonate with audiences, while misinformation and myths have spread rapidly with negative implications.

Shaping the public narrative on migration and migrants - A Guide to Promoting a Balanced Dialogue, GFMD, 2020.pdf

Communicating effectively on migration: recommendations and policy options

The debate on migration in Europe continues to polarise attitudes and impact mainstream political discourses. Amidst a changing communication landscape characterised by widespread disinformation, limited space for nuanced and balanced reporting and an increasingly important role for social media, it has become critical for EU policymakers, the media and civil society to understand how to effectively communicate on migration.

Progressive communicators have traditionally countered anti-migrant rhetoric with ad hoc communication activities that tend to focus on myth-busting approaches and the dissemination of facts. However, relevant actors in the communication field urge to shift the way communications is typically handled. In emotionally charged discussions – such as the one on migration – practitioners and researchers argue that there is a need for strategic framing and narrative change to ‘win’ the debate.

The policy recommendations gathered in this ReSOMA Policy Option Brief represent proposals with the highest consensus among a variety of stakeholders – from non-governmental actors, communications consultants, to public opinion scholars, think-tanks and communication researchers. Since literature about how to communicate effectively on migration are recent and limited, the desk research encompassed broader proposals on communicating human rights effectively. To review the effectiveness and feasibility of the proposed recommendations, a ReSOMA Transnational Feedback Meeting was conducted with relevant communications experts, academics and practicitoners.

As such, the brief presents the following recommendations with the highest agreement be-tween stakeholders:

  • Develop a communications strategy and leadership (Section 2.1);
  • Choose credible messengers and embrace partnerships (Section 2.2);
  • Apply value-based and emotive approaches (Section 2.3);
  • Lead with hope-based solutions (Section 2.4);
  • Be visual (Section 2.5);
  • Target a movable audience (Section 2.6);
  • Support fair reporting (Section 2.7).

Communicating effectively on migration - recommendations and policy options, Hind Sharif, ReSOMA, 2019.pdf
Impact des attitudes de l’opinion publique en matière de migration sur l’environnement politique dans la région euro-méditerranéenne

Impact des attitudes de l’opinion publique en matière de migration sur l’environnement politique dans la région euro-méditerranéenne

Ce document constitue le premier des trois chapitres du rapport intitulé « Impact des attitudes de l’opinion publique en matière de migration sur l’environnement politique dans la région euro-méditerranéenne ». Ce rapport fait partie intégrante de l’Étude de phase III d’Euromed Migration en matière de communications.
Ce rapport fait à la suite de l’Étude de phase II d’Euromed Migration en matière de communications, intitulée « Public attitudes on migration : rethinking how people perceive migration » (Attitudes de l’opinion publique en matière de migration : repenser les perceptions de la migration), qui a montré que les attitudes
à l’égard de la migration dans la région euro-méditerranéenne semblent être restées relativement stables au fil des ans, même si l’importance que chacun attribue au phénomène a évolué. Ce chapitre cherche à savoir comment, et pourquoi, l’importance ou la prépondérance de la question migratoire ont radicalement évolué dans les politiques européennes. La prépondérance est ici définie comme l’importance relative et la dimension que les électeurs attribuent à une problématique, dans le cas présent au phénomène migratoire et, plus particulièrement aux fins de ce chapitre, à la question de l’immigration. Ce chapitre s’appuie sur les conclusions de différentes sources scientifiques afin d’élaborer un cadre théorique qui explique comment la prépondérance d’un sujet influe sur l’issue d’une élection, à la fois en termes de résultats et de participation puis, à terme, sur les politiques publiques, par le biais de l’activation émotionnelle, l’exposition aux informations et les jugements portés sur les hommes politiques. De plus, il retrace l’évolution de la prépondérance de la question de l’immigration en Europe entre 2005 et 2018, qui fait ressortir des tendances claires d’un point de vue géographique, politique et économique. Nous présenterons également un second cadre explicatif afin de mieux comprendre l’évolution de la prépondérance de cette problématique. Il s’appuie sur la littérature scientifique existante, et précise les rôles respectifs des politiques publiques, des tendances et des événements migratoires « réels », ainsi que des médias et des hommes politiques.

Impact des attitudes de l’opinion publique en matière de migration sur l’environnement politique dans la région euro-méditerrané

Reversing the Perspective: How European Stakeholders React to Migration Policy Frames of Southern Mediterranean Counterparts

This paper investigates how European institutional and civil society actors frame and assess
EU migration policies in the Mediterranean area. Based on extensive in-depth interviews, the
report analyses how European actors describe the overall EU approach to cooperation with
Mediterranean third countries in the field of migration; how they evaluate the most recent and
relevant EU policies in this field; and which are the actors that they identify as key players in this
policy area. European civil society actors proved to share the critical views expressed by their
civil society counterparts in Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. They described the EU’s
discourse as securitizing and Eurocentric, highlighting that it also translates into securitizing,
Eurocentric and conditionality-based policies and practices. They lamented the lack of legal
migration opportunities, but at the same time they praised the European Commission for its
efforts in this field. They also claimed the lack of gender-sensitive or gender-specific policies
in the area of migration and the limited involvement of SEM CSOs in migration policymaking.
The paper also explores possible alternative policy instruments, looking into the pros and cons
of a more participatory governance of migration from the perspective of EU officials and civil
society actors.

Reversing the perspective - How European Stakeholders React to Migration Policy Frames of Southern Mediterranean Counterparts, Emanuela Roman, 2018.pdf

Press Coverage of the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in the EU: A Content Analysis of Five European Countries

In 2014, more than 200,000 refugees and migrants fled for safety across the Mediterranean Sea. Crammed into overcrowded, unsafe boats, thousands drowned, prompting the Pope to warn that the sea was becoming a mass graveyard. The early months of 2015 saw no respite. In April alone more than 1,300 people drowned. This led to a large public outcry to increase rescue operations.

Throughout this period, UNHCR and other humanitarian organisations, engaged in a series of largescale media advocacy exercises, aiming at convincing European countries to do more to help. It was crucial work, setting the tone for the dramatic rise in attention to the refugee crisis that followed in the second half of 2015.

But the media was far from united in its response. While some outlets joined the call for more assistance, others were unsympathetic, arguing against increasing rescue operations. To learn why, UNHCR commissioned a report by the Cardiff School of Journalism to explore what was driving media coverage in five different European countries: Spain, Italy, Germany, the UK and Sweden.

Researchers combed through thousands of articles written in 2014 and early 2015, revealing a number of important findings for future media advocacy campaigns.

Most importantly, they found major differences between countries, in terms of the sources journalists used (domestic politicians, foreign politicians, citizens, or NGOs), the language they employed, the reasons they gave for the rise in refugee flows, and the solutions they suggested. Germany and Sweden, for example, overwhelmingly used the terms ‘refugee’ or ‘asylum seeker’, while Italy and the UK press preferred the word ‘migrant’. In Spain, the dominant term was ‘immigrant’. These terms had an important impact on the tenor of each country’s debate.

Media also differed widely in terms of the predominant themes to their coverage. For instance, humanitarian themes were more common in Italian coverage than in British, German or Spanish press. Threat themes (such as to the welfare system, or cultural threats) were the most prevalent in Italy, Spain and Britain.

Overall, the Swedish press was the most positive towards refugees and migrants, while coverage in the United Kingdom was the most negative, and the most polarised. Amongst those countries surveyed, Britain’s right-wing media was uniquely aggressively in its campaigns against refugees and migrants.

This report provides important insights into each country’s press culture during a crucial period of agenda-setting for today’s refugee and migrant crisis. It also offers invaluable insights into historical trends. What emerges is a clear message that for media work on refugees, one size does not fit all. Effective media advocacy in different European nations requires targeted, tailored campaigns, which takes into account their unique cultures and political context.

Press Coverage of the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in the EU - A Content Analysis of Five European Countries, Mike Berry, Inaki Garcia-Blanco, Kerry Moore, December 2015.pdf