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Comparative Study

How European Media Report on Migration and Flight

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Verschiedene Zeitungen nebeneinander. © Jürgen Huhn​/​TU Dort­mund
The European Journalism Observatory at TU Dort­mund University has examined media in 17 countries in terms of how they report on migration and flight.

How do the media in western and eastern Europe report on migration and flight? An analysis in 17 countries finds blind spots, national peculiarities – and diversity of opinion. That is the result of a study funded by the Otto Brenner Foundation and conducted by the European Journalism Observatory at TU Dort­mund University.

For the first time, it investigates what role the media play in the discussion on migration in a large number of countries in different regions of Europe. The analysis concludes that quantity and quality of reporting differ widely. Particularly interesting as far as Germany is concerned: The perspective of the German media differs fundamentally from that of other European media. According to the data of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Germany is today one of the five most important host countries – alongside Uganda, Pakistan, Turkey and Sudan. This exceptional situation is reflected in the media: With the exception of another special case – Hungary – in no other EU country are migration and flight reported on so extensively as in Germany.

In the six weeks between  August 2015 and Match 2018 chosen for examination, the two German media analyzed – the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – together published over 1,000 articles. By comparison: Above all in many eastern European countries less (or infinitesimally more) than 100 articles appeared in the same period. The exception is Hungary, whose prime minister Viktor Orbán made his mark as Angela Merkel’s opponent in the controversy on how to deal with refugees – as a matter of fact the Hungarian media published over 1,500 articles on the topic of migration and flight.

Study shows different reporting in Europe 

Germany’s special role can also be seen in the country comparison: No other government features as much in reports at in­ter­na­tio­nal level as Germany’s; Angela Merkel features more often as the central figure than any other politician. 

The study shows how reporting differs within Europe. For Germany – like for Italy and Greece – migration and flight have an immediate impact on their own countries and many reports are also concerned with events there. By contrast, these are treated as foreign affairs topics in the other EU countries: They are things taking place a long way from home, beyond one’s own borders. At least the French, British and Hungarian media highlight in­ter­na­tio­nal negotiations in their reports. Some reports are even concerned with specific groups of migrants: In Italy, the focus is on groups from Africa, in France they occupy just as much space as refugees and migrants from the Middle East. Immigrants from the Middle East are the media focus in most other European countries – in the Italian newspaper La Stampa they are not mentioned in a single article. For the media in Russia as well as in Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, migration and flight from Ukraine were also an important topic – one scarcely mentioned by “western” media in the period under investigation, although over two million people (according to estimates by in­ter­na­tio­nal organizations) have fled from there in the face of armed conflict since 2014.

Germany ranks top in reporting on refugee aid

The reporting emphasis also differs significantly. Problems with migrants and refugees as well as protests are more than twice as often the focus of eastern European media than of western ones. In contrast, reports on the situation of these people and on relief efforts find their way into western European media somewhat more frequently. Here, Germany yet again has a special role: In no other country under investigation is the topic of “support for migrants and refugees” reported on so extensively.

The European Journalism Observatory is based at TU Dort­mund University

The European Journalism Observatory (EJO), which conducted the study, is a network of 12 journalism institutes at universities throughout Europe and received the Günter Wallraff Critical Journalism Award in 2019 for its work. The EJO is based at the Erich Brost Institute of International Jour­na­lis­m of TU Dort­mund University. About 2,500 articles from six representative weeks under investigation between August 2015 and March 2018 were included in the EJO analysis.

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the university are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Universität"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The university is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the university: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Universität S".

Dort­mund Airport offers flights to several destinations in Central Europe. There are regular connections to Katowice, Kraków, London and Munich. For the approximately 20km-trip from Dort­mund Airport to TU Dort­mund University, you can use a shuttle bus to the railway Station "Bahnhof Holzwickede", from which trains depart to Dort­mund main station (please visit Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr for more information). Normally, the fastest way is to catch a taxi at Dort­mund Airport.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Universität S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the university directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.