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Published February 22, 2023 | Version v3
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Refugees or (im)migrants: (re)conceptualizing and (re)contextualizing migration in the media

  • 1. Ljubljana University


The article examines how the media around the world perceived and reported on migration and refugees in the period from 2015 to 2022 in five selected countries, during the period of the strongest waves of the European migration crisis, the adoption of international agreements for their (political) solution, as well as the beginning of the Ukraine conflict. The first aim of the study was to find out whether we are witnessing an increasing similarity or diversification of the content of migration-related news in five different countries and languages and whether theoretical reconceptualizations that have emerged in migration studies have a significant impact on the way migration is reported in the media. Overall, our study shows that empirical contextualizations have a more significant impact on media coverage of migration than theoretical conceptualizations. In other words, theoretical conceptualizations that have emerged in migration research do not have a significant impact on the way migration is reported in the media. Other (news) factors or values arising from specific social contexts are more important. For example, the coverage of migration is primarily situated in a national political context and reflects the most important issues of the time. Thus, our analysis shows that the media in Slovenia paid relatively high attention to the November 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. However, the reason for this was not the content of the Compact, but the fact that the Compact was discussed in the Slovenian parliament and the Slovenian right-wing media used this discussion as an opportunity for a series of comments directed against migrants who were portrayed as having come to Slovenia en masse and illegally. Moreover, the concepts of "migrant" and "refugee" often overlap in
journalistic discourse, further underpinning the lack of a clear conceptualization of migration in the media, despite the fact that academic and journalistic fields of knowledge are very different and in some respects almost mutually exclusive. 


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