A guide for media reporting on refugee and asylum issues
The crisis in Ukraine has led to more and more journalists writing about people fleeing war and the UK’s asylum system.
Every day, hundreds more stories about refugees are published, in magazines and newspapers across the country and the world. Many of these articles contain tired tropes, misleading information or misrepresentative images which cause real harm.
Inaccurate headlines or stories can lead to more dehumanisation towards already marginalised groups seeking protection.
The National Union of Journalism and UNHCR have created this helpful guide, for and by journalists, for reporting on refugees. It covers definitions and best practice for interviews.
As the UNHCR says, we are not looking to stifle debate. But when people’s lives are at stake, there is no room for inaccuracies and falsehoods.
We've provided answers to some frequently asked questions below.
While many people will feel comfortable sharing their name in the media, remember that people are in a precarious situation and their story could be read in the country they fled from, putting themselves or other members of their family at risk. Please think about whether your story can be anonymised for people’s safety.
Please respect that individuals can change their mind at any time, and can say no without giving a reason.
Interviewing children and young people
Our Scottish Guardianship Service and Communications team have put together a checklist for journalists looking to engage with young people.
Any interview with someone under 18 requires the permission of a parent or guardian. For unaccompanied-asylum-seeking children in Scotland this will be their social worker.
- Can this be anonymous?
- Are you happy to avoid asking the young person why they can’t be in their home country?
- Do you need a photo? If so, can it be a silhouette?
- Can the guardian/another person sit in on the interview?
- Reminder that the interview can be terminated at any time – please be aware of that
- Can you turn off comments on any online publication of the piece?
- Can you send over the young person’s quotes prior to publication?
Our press office can provide information and comments on refugee and asylum issues and arrange interviews with spokespeople from across the organisation.
We work within a network of support agencies and community groups and can help put you in touch with others in the sector where relevant, including spokespeople from refugee communities on a case by case basis.