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Media tasked on migration reporting

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Migrants PHOTO: Google image


Pelumi is a graduate of Chemistry from one of the universities in South West of Nigeria. He had worked so hard to graduate with a second class upper degree. She had high hopes of getting a good job from the private sector.Unfortunately, five years down the line, there was no prospect of a job despite numerous applications and interviews.

Pelumi had become completely disillusioned having disappointed his family, which invested so much in his education. He was convinced by his friends to migrate to Europe where he would get a good job and actualise his dreams.He was introduced to a group, which trafficks people to Europe for a fee. Pelumi borrowed the needed money from family members and friends to make the trip. The first leg of the journey was from Lagos to Kano by road, then Kano to Agadez in Niger Republic. The final leg was to Libya, where he would be smuggled to Europe. He endured the journey to Agadez with no money or travelling documents.But getting to Europe was more difficult than he imagined.

This is just one out of the thousands of stories of many making attempt to search for a greener pasture outside the shores of Nigeria.Hence, the media has been charged to demonstrate commitment in reporting migration issues beyond the news to enable effective impact in habit formation and behavioural change.

Migration stories cut across issues of conflict, security, human trafficking, illegal migration, policies and laws, business, economy, education and so on, which have been argued to have only gained peripheral attention, especially in the media.Last week, a two-day master class to engage the media on reporting migration was organized by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in a bid to reach more young people on the dangers of irregular migration.

A survey conducted by WSCIJ shows that only 275 migration stories were published across 10 media outlets monitored between June and July 2019, out of which 230 were just news items. And out of 435 editorials, only six were dedicated to migration.

The Senior Programme Officer of WSCIJ, Adeolu Adekola, charged journalists to do more than routine reporting on migration issues among others, adding that media managers should also encourage reporters to look at more stories with narrative details on migration. He said, “there is need to be intentional in covering migration issues; more illustration could be done through cartoons and images.”

Speaking also, the Director of The Daily Trust Foundation, Dr. Theophilus Abbah, said constant and detail stories on migration would enlighten Nigerians on the implications of irregular migration and thus make those who plan to leave the country to have a rethink, change their minds and work hard to improve themselves and the economy of the country.

According to Abbah, “many newspapers are not reporting migration issues with the kind of commitment that will make impact or a change and the power of the media cannot be underestimated because it is responsible for habit formation and behavioral change. And if we don’t do reports that can lead to a change in behavior, that can tell the story in such a manner that can enlighten Nigerians on the implications of irregular migration, it means we are not going to make the needed impact possible.
 
“The media should do more of investigative reports, solution reports, we should look at migration from the various perspective, the economic, the environment, security, discrimination, historical and even diplomatic perspective.”

Continuing, he said, “There are different ways to look at migration issues. So, if we decide to do this story from a different perspective, it becomes easier for Nigerians to appreciate the issues related to migration. If the stories we tell is about only those who return, the stories are not going to be impactful, it will just be one aspect of it.

“One of the roles the media play is that of education. If we don’t educate the ordinary Nigerians, they will continue to want to go, leaving the country but if they are told the consequences, implications of what they want to embark upon, many of them will not go.  If they are told that life is not the way it is seen on social media, they will stay, work hard and see how to improve themselves and the economy.”

Abbah said that good stories on migration would also affect governance. He pointed out that government through stories could be made to do the right thing that will ensure that young people don’t run away.On her part, Dr. Franca Attoh, an Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Lagos, noted that good reports on migration are inevitable for developments.

She said, “Before somebody sets out to migrate, there must be something that impels the process, maybe, not providing the enabling environment for young people. Migration has generated a myriad of discontent in both countries of origin and destination.”

In her presentations, she highlighted the point that “many countries perceive migrants as responsible for some social problems such as crime, terrorism and growing youth unemployment. Examples are the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, profiling of Nigerians in Ghana, the slave market in Libya and the current arrests of criminals in the USA, UK and others.

“Brain drain from source countries resulting in underdevelopment, brain waste in destination countries which may impel criminality and disillusionment.”Editor, ICIR, Mr. Ajibola Amzat, said the media must focus more on humanised stories rather than just news ,especially in reporting migration. He said, “People like to know the stories of the migrants; their experiences, as this would help those who are considering the option to have a rethink, because at the end of the day, they lose more than they tend to gain.”

Amzat said the programme was very insightful as the knowledge gained would help him in his story pursuit, adding, “I am currently doing an investigation on migration and I realise that I need feedbacks from people who have been reporting the beat. Their experiences shared would help with my approach to the story.”


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Adeolu AdekolaWSCIJ
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