By Our Reporter
The President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Christopher Isiguzo on Friday was decorated with the Media Legendary Global Award at the 3rd Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) Migration summit held in Toronto, Canada.
Delivering a presentation titled: The Role Of The Media In The Advancement Of Safe, Orderly And Regular Migration, Isiguzo posited thus: “it is clear that migration reporting needs to have its own recognizable structure. It has to emerge from a clearly defined context. It needs direction and purpose.
Reporting migration issues is comparative journalism and requires intellectual analysis. It also requires an understanding of geography.
“The reporter must have a deep knowledge of his country before he can report intelligently about another foreign country. Special barriers like culture, language and censorship, cost of living may be considered while carrying out such an assignment.
“It is obvious that interest in news on migration issues that do not border on violence, war and conflicts hardly appeal to the audience, thus most editors in a bid to satisfy their audiences always kill the news from the migration reporter especially during peace time.
Opportunities for Migration Reporters
Reporters covering migration beats are exposed to benefits of training and retraining in their specialized area of endeavor. There are always openings for long-term and short-term training programmes particularly abroad. By their being on this beat always, they are more exposed to such programmes than their colleagues covering other beats. This widens the scope of journalistic freedom of its reporters as it provides avenues to explore various areas and places either in search of facts or to authenticate information particularly those with foreign linkages.”
Below is his his full speech at the summit.
GLOBAL MOBILITY: THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN THE ADVANCEMENT OF SAFE, ORDERLY AND REGULAR MIGRATION, BEING A PAPER BY CHRIS ISIGUZO, NATIONAL PRESIDENT NIGERIA UNION OF JOURNALISTS AT THE JOURNALISTS INTERNATIONAL FORUM FOR MIGRATION (JIFORM) GLOBAL MIGRATION SUMMIT OCTOBER 1-14 2022 AT EST HOTELS, ETOBICOKE, TORONTO, CANADA.
Global Compact for Migration
According to the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights- OHCHR, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (A/RES/73/195), is the first intergovernmental agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
OHCHR also notes that the Global Compact is grounded in international human rights law and reaffirms States’ commitment to respecting, protecting, and fulfilling all human rights for all migrants. The Global Compact rests on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and each of the nine core international human rights law instruments, and contains a Guiding Principle on human rights:
“The Global Compact is based on international human rights law and upholds the principles of non-regression and non-discrimination. By implementing the Global Compact, we ensure effective respect for and protection and fulfilment of the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their migration status, across all stages of the migration cycle. We also reaffirm the commitment to eliminate all forms of discrimination, including racism, xenophobia and intolerance, against migrants and their families;”
The Global Compact enumerates 23 objectives for State action, bolstered by specific commitments, that seek to address challenges related to today’s migration. The GCM commitments and actions can be seen as a guide for States to meet their human rights obligations when designing migration governance measures to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities migrants face at different stages of migration and to create conducive conditions that empower all migrants to become active members of society.
OHCHR list the Key commitments to include:
Strengthening evidence-based and human rights-based policy-making and public discourse on migration;
Minimizing the adverse drivers of migration, including combatting poverty and discrimination and addressing climate and disaster-related displacement;
Ensuring migrants’ rights to information and to a legal identity;
Expanding and diversifying availability of pathways for safe, orderly and regular migration, taking into account the particular needs of migrants in situations of vulnerability;
Protecting the right to decent work and other labour rights for migrants;
Addressing and reducing vulnerabilities and human rights violations in the context of migration;
Protecting the right to life in the context of migration;
Combatting smuggling and trafficking while protecting the human rights of those who have been smuggled or trafficked;
Respecting human rights at borders and conducting human rights-based and individualized screening, assessment and referral of migrants;
Protecting the right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention, including by prioritizing alternatives to immigration detention;
Ensuring migrants’ rights to access basic services, including health, education, and social support, without discrimination;
Eliminating discrimination and combatting hate speech and xenophobia;
Upholding the prohibitions of collective expulsion and refoulement for all migrants, ensuring that returns are safe and dignified and reintegration is sustainable.
Concept of Migration
Migration could be internal or external. It is internal when the movement is from within, or external when it involves moving from one’s country to another.
Migration could be short term circular migration, educational migration, and short term mobility linked to selling of agricultural produce. There are ongoing debates on how different forms of movement can be classified, as they do not always have clear demarcations. Movements can be: within or across borders; voluntary (for work, study or family reasons) or forced (as a result of conflict or natural disasters); regular (with documentation) or irregular (without documentation); and temporary, seasonal or longer term/permanent. But the country profile on Migration in Nigeria (2016) contends that migration involves movement of people across a recognized political boundary to establish permanent or semi-permanent residence, adding that six month residence in a new location is enough to categorize one as a migrant.
Migrations, according to UNDP (2010:10) involve family re-union, education tourism and labour; while involuntary migration encompasses internally displaced persons (IDPs); trafficked/abducted, asylum seekers and refugees; and undocumented migration comprising smuggled, bonded labour, irregular/undocumented labour migrations and illegal adoptions. However, migrants can shift categories at any given time.
It is therefore very important for the media to understand the Global Compact on Migration and Migration Concept to enable them perform their duties well.
Effects of Migration
This could be positive or negative and brain drain is one of the effects (IOM,2014). Brain drain is a situation in which nationals of high skills leave their countries of origin in search of employment or to establish businesses abroad (Chetsanga, 1998). This has negative consequences on the countries of origin because skills of the remaining nationals are insufficient to grow industries, academia, and other sections of the economy. Brain waste which is the care of migrants engaging in menial occupations abroad, resulting in de – skilling is another negative effect of migration.
However, a positive effect of migration is brain gain in which individuals who gain skills abroad through temporary migration return with such skills (Chimanikere, 2005). The challenge before governments, especially African leaderships is to reverse brain drain while optimizing brain grain and minimize brain waste of nationals abroad.
Remittances from abroad are other major benefits of migration. These are funds remitted or sent home by migrants to their parents, families and relatives. Even though, some argue that undocumented remittances exceed the official sources, Nigeria for example earns the highest revenue from this source among other countries south of the sahara. It is estimated that “Nigeria earns 65% of officially recorded remittance flows to the region and 2% of the global flows, ranking Nigeria as the 5th in the World Bank ranking” (IOM,2016:5).
Promoting Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
From what was enumerated thus far, it is clear that migration reporting needs to have its own recognizable structure. It has to emerge from a clearly defined context. It needs direction and purpose.
Reporting migration issues is comparative journalism and requires intellectual analysis. It also requires an understanding of geography. The reporter must have a deep knowledge of his country before he can report intelligently about another foreign country. Special barriers like culture, language and censorship, cost of living may be considered while carrying out such an assignment.
It is obvious that interest in news on migration issues that do not border on violence, war and conflicts hardly appeal to the audience, thus most editors in a bid to satisfy their audiences always kill the news from the migration reporter especially during peace time.
Opportunities for Migration Reporters
Reporters covering migration beats are exposed to benefits of training and retraining in their specialized area of endeavor. There are always openings for long-term and short-term training programmes particularly abroad. By their being on this beat always, they are more exposed to such programmes than their colleagues covering other beats. This widens the scope of journalistic freedom of its reporters as it provides avenues to explore various areas and places either in search of facts or to authenticate information particularly those with foreign linkages.
International Exposure is another opportunity derivable by migration reporters. We have seen this happening through visits of diplomats to foreign countries. Ministerial visits abroad and other high-ranking officials of Governments and other Stakeholders who always make such trips with journalists.
To harness opportunities in migration reporting adequately, a reporter must be responsible and responsive to determine issues and events that are newsworthy in the real sense because there are some events and occurrences that are not newsworthy. Therefore, a good reporter with the aim of harnessing opportunities should aspire to possess a yardstick for measuring the newsworthiness of any event, development or occurrences before it is regarded as worthy of being news.
Gathering of Information on migration issues is also a tasking duty for reporters and one of the best ways to ensure credible reportage is to strive as much as possible to have personal observation of events as this will lead to good reporting. While some news elements may be apparent, the reporter should not depend on personal observation alone. The reporter must talk to people connected with the situation to get a complete picture of what he is reporting on.
A competent and qualified migration reporter should also have some specific qualities in order to communicate effectively with his target audiences. He must be mentally fit, agile and painstaking in order to be able to meet deadlines. He needs to have enough stamina necessary for day-today activities and running of his duties. He also needs some endurance and patience.
A successful reporter on the migration beat must be intelligent and have an enquiring and disciplined mind. He should be a person with conscience and sound moral judgment. He should be interested in his job and should like it and show favourable disposition to it. He should not be interested in an assignment because of its financial benefits.
To maximize opportunities in reporting, the reporter apart from being intelligent and disciplined, should also be lively and friendly. He should be very pleasant and keenly interested in people and events happening on day-to-day basis. In addition, Reporters must have the ability to recognize that a particular event, circumstance or situation can be of interest to readers and listeners. The ability to recognize clues, i.e facts, ideas, etc that suggest possible answers to problems is necessary.
As a matter of priority, such reporters should possess a favourable disposition that will enable them remain calm and unruffled in the face of any distraction or demands. They should always conduct themselves as trustworthy persons, who must always maintain their integrity by only engaging in what makes people to respect, trust and defend them even in their absence. They must be benevolent, peaceful and organized.
A successful migration reporter should be truthful and straight forward always, who never tries to satisfy the curiosity of the public by using biased and dishonest methods of obtaining news. Reporters should never intentionally or carelessly distort news, rather they should aim at presenting the most objective view of any event.
Challenges of Migration Reportage.
The major challenges encountered in the area of migration reportage is the dearth of literature and inadequate knowledge on the part of journalists. Journalists are expected to be well informed on migration matters in order to enlighten others.
Unfortunately, most Journalists lack requisite knowledge in the area of migration reporting. It is therefore gratifying to note the efforts of Journalists International Forum for Immigration for training and retraining of journalists in this specialized area of reportage.
Media ownership structure poses another challenge. In many African countries, the media are owned by governments and some wealthy individuals who have political leanings and obligations which they protect and which affect media content. Most Media owners in Africa are not interested in adding value to their human capital and so most Journalists are not properly trained or equipped (Ndolo, 2011). Added to these is the issue of poorly remunerated media workers and this makes them susceptible to bribes in their professional work. (Ndolo 2011) insists that “Journalists must be given adequate remuneration that will make them comfortable, as a hungry journalist is an angry journalist who will write from the dictate of his stomach that is amenable to any form of material manipulations.
Another challenge is in the area of security. Several journalists more often than not are subjected to severe acts of impunity by overzealous security details in the line of duty. In extreme cases, journalists are known to have been kidnapped or killed while on duty. (Ndolo, 2011).
For us in Nigeria, Section 22 of Chapter 11 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended confers on the press, radio, television and other agencies of mass communication, the obligation to uphold at all times, the fundamental objectives contained in the chapter, as well as uphold the responsibility of the government to the people. It is therefore the responsibility of the media to hold people in Government accountable for their actions or inactions. Also, regarded as the fourth estate of the realm, the media are an essential factor in the process of democracy. They do not only monitor governance and make government accountable, but also help to mobilize the populace to participate in the process of governance and development.
Since the functions of government are clear, in performing these functions, government officials are expected to be honest, responsible, transparent, accountable, efficient in administration and services delivery. Where any of these is lacking or is deliberately subverted, it is the responsibility of the media to raise alarm.
The effective and efficient watchdog role of the press in any democratic society contributes immensely to the vibrancy of governance. So in order to achieve a harmonious relationship between the state and the press, the State must guarantee freedom of the press to examine and report its records and conduct, while the press must understand that its freedom comes with a responsibility.
No doubt, the Media are an essential foundation of democracy. In exposing crimes, anti social behavior and hypocrisy, and in campaigning for reform and propagating the views of minorities, they perform an invaluable function. It is therefore very pertinent if they have unhindered access to all the information they require to carry out their professional responsibility creditably.
I thank you for your time and attention.
- Chetsanga, C.T (1998) An Analysis of the causes and effects of the brain drain in Zimbabwe, Harare Zimbabwe: Scientific Industrial Research and Development Center.
- Chimanikere D.P (2006) Brain Drain: Causes and Economic Consequences for Africa, Paper presented at the 27th annual roundtable conference of the African Association for Public Administration and Management, Livingstone, Zambia. November 5-9.
- Chuckwu, J.N (2017) Migration and Media Reportage in Nigeria in the 21st century: Issues & Challenges. Being a presentation at the Faculty of Humanities International Conference, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike, Nigeria.
IOM (2016) Migration in Nigeria: A country profile 2014. Switzerland, General.
- Ndolo, I.S. (2011) Media as the Fourth Estate of the Realm: Real or Imagined. In Ike S. Ndolo (ed) Contemporary Issues in Communication and Society. Enugu: Rhyce Kerex Publishers.