It would seem apt to write about the US presidential election and an easy way to write a long blog full of conjecture and opinions to fill space. However, I aim to use this blog to highlight how media attention can vary so wildly with regards to how a campaign or issue is covered.
I wanted to delve further in to how campaigns are covered and look at not only what is covered but also the content that isn’t covered.
Coverage that can’t be covered
Some other contentious topics alongside the US presidential elections such as Britain’s exit of the EU and the migrant crisis are also gold-mine’s for negative voices and positive voices. I want to look at the voices that aren’t covered.
Whilst browsing my twitter feed, I chanced upon a United Nations Refugee Agency video showing a spoken word performance by Emi Mahmoud. It was incredible and made me wonder how certain right wing or anti-refugee & immigration media outlets would view or cover it. Would they cover it?
— UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) October 23, 2016
To quote a few lines from the video:
“To go from bird watching to bird watching in Greece is to watch the world unfurl…”
“When an island becomes a door, who will answer?”
“Safe passage begins with asking the questions no one will dare to utter”
In a recent lecture, we learnt about positive and negative media framing of campaigns (O’Brien & Kavada, 2016), which can be due to a number of factors such as state ownership, commercialisation, who owns the media and market pressures.
An example of positive coverage which helps raise awareness of the plight of refugees, in this case in Greece, from the Belfast Telegraph (2016) below:
But a story such as this, as with over coverage of the refugee crisis is still quite standard, and frequently the human aspect of missed out.
I was particularly interested to know how a newspaper might put a negative spin on this video from the UNHCR. I had a play and created a positive and negative snippet of coverage, below:
(Credit to https://www.fodey.com/generators/newspaper/snippet.asp for their help in creating these clippings)
Pie in the sky
Whilst it is “pie in the sky” to ever have campaign material such as this spoken word video covered in such a way, it is interested to see how the UNHCR have chosen to broadcast this message.
In this case, it’s clear that the UN Refugee Agency haven’t released it through Twitter to be covered, as opposed to statistics or other material, but simply to give a unique angle on refugees.
This focus on the refugee crisis, as one that should have a focus on humans and individual stories rather than statistics, is one that was echoed at the launch of “Roads to Refuge” recently (http://www.roadtorefuge.com/).
It’s good to see other organisations take a different view and connect people who might have no prior understanding of the refugee crisis and be able to connect to case studies on a more human level.
These are, in my view, a strong case of organisations turning to “alternatives” to mainstream media coverage – one of Rucht’s (2004) ways that campaigners can deal with media framing – and are really powerful ways of conveying a message across to further understanding of this complex issue.
O’Brien, M & Kavada, A (2016). The news environment, representations of protest and alternative media. University of Westminster. 7th October 2016. Available at: https://learning.westminster.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/pid-1770738-dt-content-rid-4463481_1/courses/7MEDS013W.1.2016/News%20media%20and%20representations%20of%20protest%202016-%20Lecture.pdf. (Accessed 15 November 2016)
Rucht, D., Nixon, P.G., Loader, B.D. and van de Donk, W. (2004) Cyberprotest: New media, citizens and social movements. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.
Belfast Telegraph (2016) UNHCR says up to 240 dead in wrecks off Libya. Available at: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/unhcr-says-up-to-240-dead-in-wrecks-off-libya-35185408.html (Accessed: 15 November 2016).
*This blog has been written as part of my Media, Campaigning and Social Change MA (Part time) at the University of Westminster, for more information about this course please view: http://www.westminster.ac.uk/MACampaigning.