Three types of media

The REMINDER project was undertaken in the aftermath of both the Mediterranean ‘migration crisis’ and the Brexit referendum in the UK. Researchers looked at reporting practices in nine different countries, including both new and old EU member states. The issue of migration was considered contentious, politicised, and relevant to journalists everywhere, though to differing degrees.

In most countries, reporters focused mainly on asylum and refugees. When dealing with other forms of migration (for example, EU free movement), reporting still tended broadly to focus on the mobility of the poor and on consequences for receiving countries and their local populations. In the UK — predictably, in the light of Brexit — the mobility of EU nationals was more present as a significant policy issue than in other countries sampled.

One key question related to the relation between government and media in different countries, and how this affected the working practices of journalists. Researchers identified three broad categories of relationship between governments and journalism:

Directive relationships, in which government influence (or even interference) appeared to be a normalised (if unwanted) reality of journalistic life, and could significantly affect a journalist’s ability to work effectively. This relationship was common in Hungary and Poland, and visible in Romania.

Collusive relationships, in which government influence is felt more-or-less indirectly, for example through reporters’ understandings regarding the kind of politicised interpretations their editors, proprietors or other senior staff may want to see. This kind of relationship was common in UK newspapers, and in the media of Italy, Spain, Romania, and Slovenia.

Responsive relationships, in which there is little or no sense that political entities are trying to direct journalists’ choices or behaviours (other than through basic public relations strategies, such as the issuing of press releases and quotes). This kind of relationship was prevalent in non-newspaper media in the UK, and in Germany, and Sweden.

How do we know this?