Date of Award
Master of Arts
Mass Communication and Media Arts
An Abstract of the Thesis Of Anita Tvauri, for the Masters of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Media Arts, presented on April 26, 2016, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Title: ‘Migrants’ or ‘Refugees’? Al-Jazeera English and the 2015 coverage of the ‘immigration’ crisis in Europe Major Professor: Dr. Cinzia Padovani The “migrant and refugee crisis” in Europe became a widely used term in the media as the number of migrants and refugees at the borders of the European Union grew intensively during 2015, to the point that various European countries closed their borders to immigration. In August 2015, Al-Jazeera English, a media organization based in Qatar, initiated a public discussion about the media representation of migrants and refugees by arguing that the term “migrant” did not accurately depict the complexity of the migrant and refugee crisis in Europe and it had become a pejorative term that had contributed to dehumanizing both migrants and refugees. By doing so, Al-Jazeera positioned itself as a moral advocate for migrants and refugees, one that was not afraid of standing up for these people. Was Al-Jazeera English successful in achieving such a lofty aim? In order to answer this question, I investigate how the Middle Eastern media organization covered the migrant and refugee crisis of 2015. Specifically I draw from critical discourse analysis to provide an in-depth analysis of the coverage to reveal the ideological motivations behind Al-Jazeera English’s editorial decision to use the word ‘refugee’ instead of ‘migrant’ in most of its reporting. Focusing on news items, blogs, editorials and opinion pieces published on the Al-Jazeera English web site during the year 2015, this study finds that Al-Jazeera English dehumanizes migrants and refugees and represents them as homogenous groups rather than individuals. Keywords: Refugees, Migrants, Europe, migration crisis, Al-Jazeera English.
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