The 16th edition of the Agora for Journalism in Tours highlighted the topic of migration and how European media cover such a complex phenomenon. Four specialised journalists attended the panel to raise awareness on this divisive subject : Mariama Thiam, a journalist working in several African media, such as for Africa Check (Senegal), Sarah Frères, a journalist at Imagine Demain le Monde (Belgium), Eleonora Camilli, a journalist at Redattore Sociale (Italy), and Ali Mahfouth, a Libyan journalist exiled in France. The discussion was moderated by France 24 journalist Amara Makhoul, also the editor-in-chief of InfoMigrants, an information website fighting against misinformation about migrants.
During the discussion, the 4 speakers tried to answer the following questions: How do european media cover the story of migration ? What notions do journalists use and what links do they create with people in exile ? To Mariama Thiam, words such as “illigal immigrants”, “immigrant” or “expatriate” are used by the media for political or geopolitical reasons. The panelists highlighted the fact that the legal terminologies and terms used in the European media often give a negative image of migration. Ali Mahfouth shared the migrants’ difficulties and fears when it comes to the media and journalists. He precised that in the region, at least 48% of migrants have had a trauma. “It is not always easy for journalists to talk to people in exile, especially after what they have seen and experienced in their own countries and while moving to Europe”, he said.
Reinforcing this point of view, Sarah Frères shared that collecting testimonies is sometimes difficult. According to her, it is important that journalists bond with migrants by giving them the freedom and length to answer questions, and share their reports and interviews when they are published or broadcast.
This panel was organised in the framework of two projects co-financed by the European Union: Sahafa Med (by J&C) – supporting journalists from the South of the Mediterranean – and New Perspective (by COSPE), an information and communication project in Senegal.