Misunderstood: Migrant Issues and the Misinformation in the Media

3 ways on how to be more responsible in consuming media regarding migrants-related issues

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In 2019, migrant workers constituted more than 30% of the workforce in agriculture and over 20% in construction and manufacturing in Malaysia

As we understood the narration on migrants in the previous webinar hosted by Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD)/ International Organisation for Migrants (IOM), the follow up webinar unravels the misrepresentation on migrants that further snowballed to a collective, almost always, negative perception from the locals which created misbehaviour towards the group of people due to the fear shaped by misinformation. 

Migrants and refugees in turn were ultimately struck by fear from seeking health treatment from the hospital which is important for one’s well-being especially at this time of pandemic. 

Kendra Rinas from IOM welcomed participants in the webinar by stating that she personally believes that change starts from understanding from all sides and hearing from others that we may not usually hear from. 

With that set in stone from the start, Malarvili Meganathan from the United Nations Migration Agency explained that migrants are an inevitable group of people, stating that as of today, there are 1 billion migrants all around the world, the highest recorded in history. 

As the world moves towards incorporating Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) with a migration agenda 2030, pledges to leave no one behind, addressing and managing migrant issues well are beneficial for everyone. 

Malarvili provided 3 keys on how to be a much responsible media consumer in regards to migrants.

The first is to address the migrant group as humans and avoid using terms that may give negative connotation to the group. Keep in mind that migrants are human beings too and they can never be illegal, only be put in irregular situations. Small changes like this would help destigmatise public’s view on migrants. 

Second, is to help address rumours and misinformation built around the migrant group. Ensure we take correct and factual information from ethical reporting in the news and social media posts we see every day. 

Third, is to keep two-way street communication. Ensure the reports we are reading includes the voices of migrants so we could see the bigger picture and it is a way to balance our views on their challenges and what may bring them in reported situations.

Wrapping the whole webinars up, we came to a conclusion that the most vital part in information about migrants and refugees is to recognise ethical journalism both by the media practitioners and in consumers’ behaviour as well.

‘Dispelling Disinformation about Migrants & Refugees-Day1’ webinar can be viewed for free from AIBD-IOM youtube channel followed by Day 2 and Day 3 to complete an understanding on migrants reporting.