Policy initiatives addressing migration frequently run up against a marked divergence between widely demonstrated economic benefits of migration and equally widely held public opinion regarding its negative impact. Is this simply the consequence of a mismatch of objective realities and subjective opinions, or is something else in play?”

Guy Ryder, ILO Director General
Fair Migration: Setting an ILO Agenda

Labour migration: Guidance for journalists

All too frequently, xenophobia against migrant workers is fuelled by populist attitudes that are divorced from the reality on the ground. Wittingly or unwittingly, media can play its part in creating an unbalanced discourse about migration, including labour migration. Inaccurate, biased media reporting can lead to misinformation, and at worse, may be an instigator for discrimination and unfair treatment.

The ILO is firmly committed against these negative forces and supports the development of balanced narratives that recognize the positive contribution of migrants. Policy-makers and the media have an important role to play in improving public perceptions of migrant workers and refugees, and doing away with the “us versus them” discourse altogether.

Focus on the Media Initiative in the Middle East

The ILO is working with media professionals, trade unionists and human rights advocates on improving current media reporting in the Middle East context and beyond. The objectives of the initiative include familiarizing participants with ILO policy prescriptions developed on the basis of international human rights and labour standards and empirical research, promoting the use of appropriate rights-based language, and supporting the production of “untold” stories.

The ILO-Panos regional media initiative has to date consisted of one inter-regional meeting of editors from South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, three national workshops for journalists and trade unionists focusing on Jordan, Bahrain and Oman, one global workshop with the Al Jazeera Network and one regional consultative meeting involving a number of expert practitioners from the International Trade Union Confederation, the Arab Trade Union Confederation, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Migrant Forum in Asia, among others.

This regional media initiative aims to advance the migrant protection agenda in two distinct ways. First, by providing an opportunity for the ILO to explain and debate with the media and trade unionists the relevance of international labour standards as well as its policy agenda on fair migration. Second, by helping to build bridges between the labour movement, human rights organizations, grassroots NGOs and journalists reporting on human and labour rights, allowing them to explore together “untold” stories and defend democratic values.

Why is reporting fairly on migration so important?

In the following series of videos, media professionals, human rights activists and trade unionists, share their views on the most critical aspects of communicating on labour migration.
  1. 1- Ethical Reporting on Labour Migration: What are Key Issues to Consider?

  2. 2- Building Bridges: How can Media, Trade Unions and Civil Society work together?

  3. Words matter: Why is rights-based terminology seen as critical?