Three forces shaping journalism

Media content is created by people, each of whom is exposed to a complex set of pressures, influences, experiences and narratives that shape his or her thinking. REMINDER analysis highlighted that journalists are consumers of media as well as producers of it, and most have to contend with editors’ expectations and work under pressure. Most also take pride in what they do.

The project identified three main external forces shaping journalists’ reporting on migration:

  1. National context and norms. For instance, in Germany and Sweden a tacit code of ethics encourages ‘moderation’ rather than ‘sensation’, while many UK newspapers have aggressive newsroom cultures that foster ‘hard and fast’ reporting. In Hungary a historical sense of existing at the edge of ‘Christendom’ has shaped responses to migration.
  2. Commercial context. Journalists rarely acknowledged using migration to drive audience engagement, but the expectations of editors loomed large in many reporters’ views on how stories had to be produced — and these managers were often seen to be focussed on sales, audience numbers and audience reaction.
  3. Political context. Journalists are influenced by the terms of the existing national debate and the position espoused by the media outlet they work for – as well as their own general worldview — in covering of migration. The aims and methods of key ‘sources’ also matter — our sample of nine countries included several examples of deliberate efforts to use migration narratives for political ends. These included efforts to secure the UK’s departure from the EU and encourage support for populist parties in Germany, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy.

How do we know this?