In a report published this year, the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) addressed the topic of Ethics in the News, revealing the unprecedented levels of pressure currently faced by ethical journalism. The report underlines the role of media in the wake of populism – with the examples of Brexit and the US elections – fake news and the “post-truth era”, protection of sources and the role of whistle-blowers. It commends the work of investigative journalists for the Panama papers, while highlighting the acute need to make people – governments included – aware of the importance of ethical, responsible, tolerant and open journalism.
A chapter of the report addresses the use of images in migration reporting, analysing the editorial choices of newsrooms the world over regarding the publication of the photo of Aylan Kurdi, the drowned toddler on a Turkish beach whose image became instantaneously viral and prompted thousands of people into action. A previous working paper by the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre analysed the reasons why the image of Aylan Kurdi went viral on social media first and subsequently in traditional media, with insights into the use of Twitter as a tool for social change.
The EJN report proposes a 5 point guide for good migration reporting: using accurate facts; knowing the international, regional and national law frameworks; avoiding victimisation and over-simplification; including migrant and refugee voices; and self-checking the language used, to ensure avoiding inflammatory and hate speech.