Sky News - Europe's Migration tragedy

Boats, Swarms and Jungles: Unpicking the refugee narrative

Thursday 30 November | 8AM-9.30AM

We will be hosting a private breakfast event to explore the challenges that present themselves when reporting on the refugee crisis, and how editors, journalists and broadcasters shape the narrative.

Two years on from our first breakfast event on this topic (Bodies on the Beach, held in Sept 2015) the migration and refugee story continues to dominate the global news agenda. With a possible correlation to seismic world events, from the Brexit vote to the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the far right.

How can the media industry truthfully and responsibly cover the facts and human stories, without feeding into the negative narratives and prejudice spurred by extremist politicians?

This breakfast is a chance to consider new evidence, from the Refugee Reporting report launched in Brussels on 16 Nov, on the representation of refugees and migrants in European news media. The report also highlights differences between coverage from the UK and mainland Europe, and addresses the challenges in reporting this topic.

The format is a round-table discussion under Chatham House rules to encourage open debate on the media’s role in enabling informed public opinion on this complex issue.



JOANNA ABEYIE – founder and MD of the award-winning creative industry diverse talent recruitment business Hyden Talent. It is Joanna’s efforts in improving the creative industry’s diversity that led to her work as a consultant and key diversity partner for the BBC, ITV, ITN, Channel 4, Sky and The Guardian. Joanna is also a multi award-winning journalist and broadcaster with over ten years experience in current affairs, news and entertainment both in the UK and America.


HASSAN AKKAD – public speaker and filmmaker from Damascus. Hassan fled Syria
after being imprisoned twice for peacefully protesting the Assad regime and is one of the
million people who arrived in Europe in 2015. Having filmed his entire Journey on a GoPro camera, his footage and story were part of the award-winning BBC Two documentary, Exodus: Our Journey to Europe. He was then part of the production on the second series now airing on BBC. He will share his unique perspective on the media coverage of refugees.


ALEX FRASER – UK Director of refugee support at British Red Cross. Alex will speak about the contrast between the media narrative and the reality of seeking asylum in the UK – touching on the issues of destitution, homelessness, and life in limbo as well as family reunion as a safe and legal route to protection. He will reflect on the impact that coverage has on policy, public opinion and ultimately the lives of people who have sought refuge.


TOM LAW – Director of Campaigns and Communications at the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN). Tom will present conclusions and recommendations based on a study commissioned by the ICMPD of media coverage of migration in 17 Euro-Mediterranean countries. The study identifies major challenges to migration reporting and finds that media in many countries on both sides of the Mediterranean are under-resourced and unable to provide the time, money and appropriate level of expertise that is needed to tell the migration story in context.


SARA SPEICHER – UK Development Manager at the World Association for Christian
Communication. Sara will present key findings from the 2017 Refugees Reporting project, an analysis of the representation of refugees in the national media of seven European countries, conducted by WACC Europe and CCME (Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe). The report, launched in Brussels on 16 November, highlights good practice and addresses questions such as: How often are the voices of refugees and migrants heard in British news and in what roles are they portrayed? How do we talk WITH refugees rather than just ABOUT refugees? What is the impact of failing to include the voices of those affected? What about women? How are the UK media doing compared to other European countries?


Places are limited but if you would like to attend or recommend a guest, email us your suggestions at [email protected].

This event is in partnership with British Red Cross, WACC Europe and CCME:



Hosted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Photo credit: Sky News, Europe’s Migration Tragedy