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Migrant Sea: Developing new narrative models for covering Sub-Saharan migration to Europe


Migrant Sea: Developing new narrative models for covering Sub-Saharan migration to Europe

Grasso, Stéphane (2021) Migrant Sea: Developing new narrative models for covering Sub-Saharan migration to Europe. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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The current mainstream news frame of migration to Europe is predicated on a long-held narrative of Western superiority and exceptionalism that privileges Western voices, discourses and optics over African ones, resulting in limited context, Euro-centric coverage and a deficiency of migrant voices, stories and ideas.
As a result, the dominant Western bias inevitably shapes the practices, optics and content of news outlets worldwide and migration to Europe is generally framed as a crisis of migration flows for the West – threatening its cultural and economic stability – as opposed to a global humanitarian crisis for millions from the ‘non-West’ (Gülsah Çapan, 2018). Furthermore, I posit that it is the homogenous, sensationalized, truncated and repetitive news coverage of migration - and not merely its distressing content - has created a ‘compassion fatigue’ among audiences, further dehumanizing and devaluing migrant voices and perspectives.
As such, the essay portion of this research-creation project is (1) an overview of Western coverage of Sub-Saharan migration since its peak in 2015, (2) a synthesis of the resulting mainstream narrative drawing from postmodern and transformative interpretative frameworks, (3) a proposal of alternative narrative models and journalistic methods and practices based on literature research, (4) a reflection on the effects of the narrative that I observed during the production of my creation project, (5) a reflection on the application of my proposed practices in the field; and (6) an analysis of my research-creation project –based on my initial literature research (points 1 – 3) – that theorizes new models for more complex, ethical and engaging coverage of migration to Europe.
The accompanying Migrant Sea creation project is both an experiment in applying alternative methods and practices in the field and an inclusive metanarrative that integrates approaches from both documentary and journalism to better engage a global audience. This project finds that issues of Western media bias, discursive supremacy and audience disengagement from the narrative of migration can be addressed through (1) the development of counter-narrative models that highlight migrant voices, stories and ideas and contextualize migration as a complex global phenomenon requiring decolonized news frames and paradigms; (2) ethical, inclusive journalistic practices that foster migrant agency, collaboration and creation of content that respectfully and authentically explores their realities from their points of view; and (3) utilizing innovative forms of multimedia production and storytelling to re-engage an audience wary of past coverage.
These findings not only imply that equitable and diverse reform of the mainstream narrative of migration is possible but that the tools for it already exist in current Western journalistic and documentary standards, methods, values, and practices. What stands in the way of such reform is a fundamental failure to recognize the bias and privilege inherent to Western news coverage and its subsequent impact on the global media narrative, policy, and the lives of millions journeying across deadly desert and sea to reach Europe.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Journalism
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Grasso, Stéphane
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Digital Innovation in Journalism Studies
Date:March 2021
Thesis Supervisor(s):Amend, Elyse
Keywords:Multimedia journalism, digital journalism, journalism, Sub-Saharan migration, migration to Europe, Media Imperialism, Western Media, Media narratives, narrative models, alternative practices, multimedia documentary, interactive documentary, documentary.
ID Code:988169
Deposited By: Stéphane Grasso
Deposited On:29 Jun 2021 22:29
Last Modified:29 Jun 2021 22:29
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Additional Information:The thesis creation project can be found at https://migrantsea.com
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