Journalists and migrants

THESSALONIKI – Greek journalists see migrants in a positive light but believe that local media coverage of them is one-sided and dictated chiefly by current events such as police reportage, since articles about migrants’ everyday lives «don’t sell,» according to a survey of media workers on the treatment of migrants in Greece. The questionnaire – part of the Equal program «Dream: Combating racism and xenophobia in the mass media» – was completed by 840 members of journalists’ unions in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Larissa, Volos and Ioannina. The responses to the study, which was coordinated by Georgios Ziotos, professor of business studies in the department of economics at Thessaloniki University, reflect who chooses media topics and on what criteria, and how they are presented. The survey found that: – Seventy percent of journalists who examine migrant issues have no special training to cover such topics. – A large proportion of journalists believe that migrants live under difficult conditions, have been exploited, do not enjoy equal opportunities, and should be able to work legally and be absorbed into Greek society. Though their own attitude is not racist, their views suggest that media coverage of migrants is exaggerated and prejudiced. This view is held mainly by young and female journalists who tend to believe that the media only covers migrants when they are in the news or are of interest to society as a whole. The provincial media pay more attention to news about migrants. – Stories about migrants tend to be one-sided and usually have to do with illegal entry, human trafficking, prostitution, robberies and burglaries. The majority of journalists connect migrants with negative stories; the media never highlight the creative input of migrants into sport, art or professional activities. – Radio gives the most coverage of migrants’ problems, while television emphasizes violence in its presentation of stories about migrants, though it adopts a more humane approach to those subjects than do other mass media. – Provincial journalists are less likely than their counterparts in Athens and Thessaloniki to believe that migrants are involved in organized crime. Those working in media outlets in Athens believe more in the assimilation of migrants. – Of those polled, 49.5 percent claim there are too many migrants, but only a small percentage want them deported. The overwhelming majority (89.5 percent) do not find their presence bothersome, 94 percent favor legal work for migrants, 82.8 percent are not satisfied with state measures on immigration and 66.81 percent believe migrants have made a significant contribution to the economy.

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