Media plays a very crucial role in introducing two strangers. It acts as a mediator to familiarize us with a distant stranger who we probably would never meet and hence, Media carries this burden of representing the stranger and therefore, the responsibility of representing them in the right way so as to nurture a positive relationship between the stranger and the consumer of the media.
Since the beginning of the year 2014 one the most interesting and heated topics of discussion has been the Immigration Bill and the lifting up of the restrictions on migrants. This in turn led to a massive cry in the UK media about how because of this upliftment Romanians and Bulgarians would ‘flock’ to UK in millions and cripple the economy of the nation.
Various popular newspapers like the Daily Mail have been publishing articles about how the migrants hamper not only economic growth but also create lawlessness by spreading crime. They go on dehumanizing the migrants by talking about them as an uncivilized, uncultured group which is very unlike ‘us’, the civilized, morally correct and cultured British.
The implications of this kind of representations are massive enough to at least start making efforts to bring about a change. These representations of migrants as the cause of everything wrong in the nation create a sense of aversion towards the stranger, reducing the possibility of ever being able to reach the point of equality. Everything wrong, starting from unemployment to lawlessness is represented as being caused by the coming in of this ‘outsider’ who has escaped their homeland so that they can take away the benefits of the people who actually deserve them. The positive reforms introduced in order to help these vulnerable people start a better life are covered by most newspapers and TV channels as negative for the ‘insiders’ and hence, it creates hostility towards the foreigner who is blamed for everything just because he is an outsider.
The media needs to understand the immense responsibility and also the burden of representation it carries and how a minor positive change in these representations can lead to a major change in the ideologies and perspectives of the people towards the migrants who deserve a chance to make full use of the opportunities anywhere in the world.
For instance, on the last day of the previous year there was distress amongst the public because the newspapers had presented the arrival of millions of Romanians and Bulgarians as if it were an apocalypse. However, the first day of the year was peaceful and nothing really happened. These false representations cause damage and the architects of news must realize this that there hypothetical figures, false and baseless accusations and half truths are causing millions of people, who are already distressed, difficulties in starting a new life and the other half is living with hatred in their hearts and fear in the minds for a group of ‘outsiders’ who just hoping for a stable life.
The kind of images and expressions used to represent migrants in the news are the way people imagine migrants in their minds as not all of them can meet them in person. We often find people using the same terminology used by newspapers to define a certain group of people leadings to the creation of stereotypes. The disturbing images of migrants circulated in the media create xenophobic feelings and responses from the consumers. These kinds of practices are leading us towards a dead-end after which there is hardly any scope of spreading the ideas of hospitality, equality and togetherness.
Hence, I see these one sided representations as a problem. The media cannot focus on all the negative aspects without even discussing about the positive ones. There are always two sides to one coin and by showing only half-truths, the media is faltering and is knowingly or unknowingly constructing a problem which is affecting people at the grass-root levels of the society. If the mediator is being unfair, there is only a slight possibility of any fairness existing in the world.
References: Ash Amin’s : Land of strangers.
R. Silverstone’s: Media and morality.
daily express, bbc, and other news sites for negative representations of migrants.