Refugee crisis: A closer look at the media’s role

Published July 16, 2017

Instead of pointing out the failures of western media on the Syrian refugee crisis, the Turkish media, which is by no means innocent on covering this humanitarian issue, should look of itselfs and analyze it’s own failures

The Syrian refugee crisis is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of the century, and it is nowhere nearing an end, having become the source of other numerous problems we currently face, including racial discrimination, anti-Muslim tendencies and rising xenophobia. The refugee crisis is likely to be one with definitive problems for which there are major consequences, for better or worse. Despite the gloomy outlook, we have covered many aspects of the refugee crisis in the Reader’s Corner repeatedly in the recent past.

Personally, I was one of the first journalists to enter several refugee camps near Turkey’s Hatay province, after Angelina Jolie made her visit. Back then, the number of refugees in the camp stood at nearly 15,000. Now, the numbers are more sobering, having reached hundreds of thousands. Make no mistake, these camps are just the tip of the iceberg, as thousands of other refugees are scattered across many countries worldwide, as well.As the numbers have swelled over the years, the media’s approach to coverage of the problem remains foreign, far-removed and problematic. I am not merely talking about the Western media’s approach to this. The media in Turkey has shared in this universal failing, as well, with many media outlets in the country continually portraying the refugee crisis as a political issue rather than a humanitarian one.

In Turkey, various media organizations portray Syrian people who were forced to leave their homes, their countries and in many cases, their families, as posing a national security threat, manipulating their presence in the country as a tool to propagate a political agenda.

This approach serves numerous forms of malice such as ethnocentrism, racism, sexism and so forth.

We have seen it before. The lifeless bodies of Syrian children washed up on Turkish coasts, and innocent and helpless people getting lynched because of the color of their skin or the language they speak. The young woman raped and murdered along with her one-year old child.

Furthermore, press agencies report on this tragedy by choosing to write about the beauty of the woman, as if beauty could mitigate the atrocity.

We have once again seen that there are women who are persona grata and persona non grata in the eyes of numerous activists. When a woman of Syrian origin is murdered or raped, the majority of women’s rights organizations and anti-violence activists turn a blind eye to femicide, with the exception of a few organizations, not including those whose agendas aim to exploit human rights. The media largely discarded the news right from the start, deeming it useless in achieving their political goals.

Media outlets have seemingly made a distinction between the preferred and the undesirable, based entirely on skewed perceptions. At most, the media has released some “token” statements and manipulative reports.


Categories: Arab World, Syria, Turkey, Turks

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