Are the media still migrant?

From the traditional press to research journals, through every media action (those that look at current events or comment on those events), the question arises: are the media frozen in a descriptive-analytical posture?

Or do they support, consciously or not, voluntarily or not, political inductions, "conversions" of events and their inevitable echoes or "rumours"?

In fact, it is a question of perceiving why, in what and how the media face historic events. Undoubtedly, every media actor can have or has a posture of closeness to the events or of keeping their distance from them, but here we shall use a global approach, certainly a reducing one, but one that we accept (for lack of time and space).

Regarding the media, we shall also make no distinction, voluntarily, between the printed versions, the digital versions (often more immediate in terms of dissemination) and the presence on social networks (even more immediate).

To further limit our discussion, we shall look at a transhistorical, international, humanly universal piece of news: the migration phenomenon. It appears to us, here at the Josefa Foundation, as the basis, through time and space, of our human condition. Thus we shall leave aside the various debates related to the ecological transition, democracy or the situations in Syria, Congo or Venezuela… insofar as, for Josefa, these events, radically essential, remain part of our migrations.

The question could also be understood as an invitation extended to the said "media": are you collectively or individually able to follow a "migrant" way, by renewing the landscapes of a human society living in the Present, in History and thus forward-looking?

It is true that, for reasons which escape us (were the lessons learned?), it seems that "migration" does not hit the headlines anymore. According to our angle of approach, would that same fact still be a fact or would it not be a fact anymore (phenomenon, event or sign)? Here again, we are tarring all media with the same brush. The fact remains that the treatment of "migration" seems to be less essential, today, for the majority of the media.

But then the question arises: "Why?" We could also wonder about the "Why" of the sudden appearance, in particular in the summer of 2015, at least in Europe, of this migration, seen then and until not long ago as a major problem to be handled and to which we had to find political, social and economic solutions.

Similarly, the way in which, mainly, the media approached the migration issue saw the emergence of a rather challenging term: "migrants". A new media economy? It is a fair question.

Which would lead us to think that when this "economy" loses its media profitability (cf. the "scoop"), it is downgraded and becomes a secondary source of "papers", of "income".

The fact remains that migration was never, or very rarely, approached from an existential point of view.

Instead, what was reported was a kind of description, a very discriminating categorization, around "migrants", with more or less affected or perceptible dosages. Is a way of participation or understanding still possible, beyond the drives for immediacy in the informationalistic desire for sensationalist events?

Did one media try to join this migratory movement? Did one author, journalist, commentator dare to approach the migration phenomenon with a reading/disruption which opens another mediating way?

The question can be put as an ethics of responsibility. Indeed, the media, in their vast majority, only approached the migration event by excluding themselves from it.

Therein probably lies the limitation, or even the error, of numerous media. No! "Migrants" are not the others: we are migrant. Our migrations question our human condition itself.

Therefore, why such an attitude from the media? Code of ethics? Protective reflex? Inability to "migrate"? Triviality in the appropriation of facts, effects, historic events, in this particular case our migrations?

The media do not seem, or barely, to ask themselves the question of whether their management of the "migration crisis" has contributed to dividing our societies into two "camps": the pro-migrants and the anti-migrants. Is there a desire or the slightest will not to create a gulf between the various approaches, a potential or real source of violence? Where is the sought-after or expected meaning? Is there still a search for meaning?

The coverage of migration by the media, by the majority of them, seems to have fallen into the well of darkness: migrants are seen as "the others", sometimes as a problem, sometimes as an opportunity. But who are these other "migrants"? What are the borders between you, media, and "them"?

Do you still have the ability to re-evaluate the migration issue with "your intelligent heart" (cf. Hannah Arendt)?

So, the call to be forward-looking becomes, for your attention, for you media, an invitation, certainly, not to forget your own cultural and professional reflexes, but more than that to make sure that all together, we with you, societal actors, we can be enriched with another way to look at our migrations. "Your" readers and listeners are, just like you, individually migrating, living out and thinking our migrations to us all.

To conclude, it would also be interesting to try and find out which media tried to get out of the socio-economic or climatic ruts and to go beyond the integrationist approach concerning the said "migrants" within "our societies", or to venture into the cultural or spiritual spheres concerning our migrations.

No media, or almost none, pushed away the borders of the migration field in its handling of information. Almost no cultural or spiritual imagination. Therefore, "migrants" were made "objects" of media treatments, or even, toys in the hands of various stakeholders in search of new games.

More seriously, in conclusion, are the media still migrant? Which media will be willing "to migrate" and dare to get hold of its own experience: "I am a migrant"? At the threshold of a memory of the only facts or by crossing the threshold of a memory that includes our human condition which, collectively or individually, is enriched, through the centuries and, if possible, through you media, with our full capability to be migrant, thus human.

We thank you, media, for thinking about exercising your migrating freedom, your political role, for "going beyond the clichés" which, too often, are the noisy object of your survival.


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