Media Note on Migrant Caravan: These Are Human Beings

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Media Note on Migrant Caravan: These Are Human Beings

Define American strongly encourages all news organizations to understand the facts and avoid use of overly politicized, sensational, xenophobic language.

Just weeks before the midterm elections in the United States, anti-immigrant hate groups and the Trump administration are begging American media to take note of a seasonal caravan of peaceful families from Central America. These families are fleeing violence and lack of economic opportunity and hoping to raise awareness about the conditions in their nations of origin.

In 2013, Define American led a successful effort to get the Associated Press to change its style guide. Since then, dozens of news organizations and hundreds of journalists have taken our #WordsMatter pledge, agreeing not to use dehumanizing and factually incorrect language when referring to or writing about immigrants.

Similarly, Define American strongly encourages all news organizations choosing to cover this issue to understand the facts and to avoid use of overly politicized, sensational, xenophobic language when referring to those attempting to walk towards our southern border.

Media should equally be aware of the sources that they are quoting and receiving information from, as some anti-immigrant hate groups are using this to intentionally promulgate misinformation.  

How a Toxic Narrative Spreads

Even news organizations that strive to be fair and unbiased can fall into the trap of succumbing to a dominant political storyline, or master narrative. President Trump and the known hate-group FAIR both framed a group of mothers and children traveling to the US to apply for asylum as a “migrant caravan.”

In the example below, inflammatory thought-leaders like Lou Dobbs picked up the narrative and escalated the journey into a “march.” Then, arguably one of our most trusted sources for news in the US, the Associated Press, further heightened the language to an “army.”

*After a public outcry, the AP replaced the above tweet.

 

Facts

 

About Define American

Define American is the nation’s leading nonprofit media organization that that uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America. It was founded in 2011 by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas. For more information, visit defineamerican.com.

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