Re-framing the migrant narrative – finding the golden frame

Zam Magazine publishes a well written article by Sierra Leone-born Dutch journalist and writer Babah Tarawally which covering the reframing of migrant reporting in the European Media 

In this opinion piece, Babah Tarawally shares his observations on the negative and discriminatory language of the media in immigrant reporting, the ‘opportunist’ approaches that the European governments have toward migrants just before every election when it comes to criminalising refugees and showing them as treat to the economy. He is also expressing a significant fact that anyone can become a refugee one day. 

In addition to that, Tarawally expresses that it is dramatically important for migrants to become the reporters of their own stories by quoting the African proverb: “‘Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.”

Tarawally, skilfully reminds us of the vital necessity of immigrants being the narrator of the news rather than being the subject of the news. He includes some sections from his own life, and he conveys important findings about how incomplete and wrongly conveyed immigrant news.

Words by Babah Tarawally

The picture frame I see in front of me is made of gold, but the picture it surrounds portrays an invading army. This is a metaphor I often use in my training sessions to empower new migrants and refugees in the Netherlands. I tell them to create their own golden frame. And I convince them that they should never let anyone convince them to believe their frames are made of ash or toilet paper. Teaching people to believe in themselves is paramount, because if they don’t believe in themselves, who else will? The asylum system? Politicians? The media?

When refugees or migrants arrive in a new country, we usually first learn about their arrival through the media. As facilitators of public debate, the media play an outsized role in shaping how these new arrivals are welcomed by their host country. By deciding how to present the facts, they set the tone and pace for both the public and politicians to form opinions and act accordingly. When a negative tone is set, the ensuing public and political debates depict refugees and migrants as invaders who need to be stopped, contained and combatted. The media that generated this public opinion has therefore succeeded in framing migrants and refugees in a certain way, and has thus set the social and political agenda.

The media currently broadcasts the message that immigrants and refugees are threatening the resilience of European societies, as well as the continent’s fragile national economies and security. The argument about security is used, in particular, to convince European citizens that terrorism is connected to immigration. And it is working. Huge gains are being made by right-wing political parties across Europe, with some winning elections and forming governments that promise to eject and reject refugees and migrants.

Click on the link to read the full article.