The Media and Migration in the United Kingdom, 1999 to 2009
The print and broadcast media in the United Kingdom cover only a very narrow range of migration stories, primarily focusing on asylum seekers, refugees, illegal immigrants, and migrant workers. The media use a “template” to frame stories about migration. These frames generally conflate all migration with asylum, make the migrant the victim and the object and show migration as a problem. There is a focus on numbers and statistics (particularly on figures that imply a burden on scarce public resources), on political debates on immigration and on language that evokes the theme of “invasion.” Stories on immigration are often unconsciously collocated in the news with reports of “foreign threats” (for instance, war, drugs, crime, or terrorism) — implying a connection between the two.
The media contributes to a perception that immigration is in perpetual crisis, which influences policy monitoring and reform. There is a symbiosis between media and policy: politicians, media, and academics provide the language for talking about immigration and thus set the agenda and frame the stories. A certain policy focus is transmitted from government to media. The stories that the media then produce feed back into policy discourse. In addition to driving policy, “media panics” also influence academic research on media coverage of migration. The result has been research that centers on print coverage of asylum seekers and refugees rather than on research across various media that provides a more comprehensive view of migration coverage in the United Kingdom. Funding for media research even increases during periods of crisis. This in turn gives rise to further policy changes, thus feeding a cycle.
II. The UK Media and Migration Reporting
III. Research Overview
IV. Media Coverage of Immigration from 1999 to 2009
V. Does the Media Drive Policy?
VI. A Chronology of Research Reports
VII. Research Highlights