Image of migration in the media – reliable information or hoaxes?


The migration wave to Europe between 2014 and 2017 was given a lot of attention in both, digital and printed media all over Europe. In most cases, messages were illustrated by photographs taken in the most problematic regions of Europe. The aim of the messages, therefore, was to illustrate the extent of the migration flows to Europe (and in some case to share fear and panic among Europeans). A majority of the public did not care that the data was not reliable and the images were taken in other places or at another time than indicated. Given this situation, many hoaxes related to migrants occurred during these times. For instance, some of these news stories used photographs taken in 1991 in the Italian port of Bari showing refugees from Albania suffering from food shortages and their collapsed economy after the fall of communism.


This relates to concepts of time and space. Do we know the time and location of the ship in the photograph? Are we sure it relates to the current problem of migration? Could something like this have happened before? It forces students to think about the basic characteristics of life – movement – that has always happens for a reason. It will be a surprise to students that this is not a recent photograph from a wave of migration, but an almost-30-year-old event. Students should realize that the world is always in motion. We could even relate this to the slave trade from Africa. Each of these events has had its causes and consequences, they can be discussed. Comparing the world before and now, perceiving its transformations, from local to global. Working with information, too. It always depends on how such a photo is used in the media or on social networks.

Each of us may be forced to travel somewhere. Even though we as Europeans are more likely to travel voluntarily this was not always the case, for example during the world wars or time of communism.

The main question is: How would you feel if your life or the fate of your children was threatened?

We can also consider another dimension, namely the use of photography. Why did the author use this photo? Was the author targeting our social sensibilities? Or did he just want to reflect the situation? Photographs are a very important piece of media communication and they need to be handled sensitively, as they often affect readers much more than a text.

Back to Vignettes