Nazek Ramadan: Why are migrants invisible in the British media?

GMT 14:22 Friday ,19 December 2014

 Migrant Voice - Nazek Ramadan: Why are migrants invisible in the British media?

Nazek Ramadan

Which group of people are least visible in the British media?  Those with disabilities?  Gay and lesbian people?  The answer may in fact be migrants. My organisation, Migrant Voice, was set up to help migrants of all kinds speak up in public debates.  Our members range from asylum seekers and refugees to immigrants working in high-powered jobs in the public and private sectors, paying tax and participating fully in British society. Yet – contrary to some of the myths peddled by Migrationwatch and others, migrants are very rarely asked their opinion on the matters that concen them most – unusual considering roughly 11% of our population were born overseas. This week we’ve published a short report on how often migrants are represented in the press – and the answers are revealing and a little surprising.  Over a three month period, we looked at just under six hundred news stories about topics like immigration, benefits, and working conditions for migrants  from eight of the UK’s biggest news organisations’s online platforms.  We found that migrants were quoted in just one in eight of the articles on average – and every paper or broadcaster we looked at quoted politicians, academics, or ”experts” more than migrants themselves. When it came to reporting on individual migrants’ achievements, the Daily Mail was the news outlet most likely to publish stories showing individual migrants in a positive light.  The Mail was also most likely to publish negative stories about individual migrants – and on issues of migrants as a whole, they were also negative. Overall though, none of the media we looked at were doing nearly enough to even attempt to talk to migrants. There are some fantastic examples of migrants’ contributions to British life that feature in all of the media we researched.  But – when you step back and look at the overall data, it’s clear that migrants’ views are systematically invisible or ignored when it comes to most stories affecting migrants. The debate on migration in the UK takes place largely within the media yet migrants themselves are all too often subject to a ”code of silence”. It’s time to change that – so Migrant Voice has written to all national newspapers and broadcasters, asking staff to sign up to our new Meet a Migrant campaign.  Our letter points out that it would be unthinkable for media to write about issues specifically affecting people with disabilities, women, or gay people without interviewing those affected, and calls on editors to ensure the same is true when it comes to migrants. The British media are rightly known for being fearless and fair in their reporting – indeed this reputation for fair play is something migrants love about Britain, particularly those born in countries without a free press. Migrant Voice would love to help British journalists get beyond the spin and the Westminster bubble, and talk to real migrants about their lives.  To find out more, tweet @migrantvoiceuk or email us on A version of this was first printed on      


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