The Role of the South African Media in the Representation of Immigrants (ongoing)

The recurring themes of illegal migration, violence and crime frames immigration as a threat to the safety of the South African population. The media images of massive refugee flows and alarmist discourses of politicians suggesting an ‘invasion’ and ‘takeover’ of ‘their’ country give rise to an image of a ‘flood’ of desperate Africans fleeing their countries because of poverty and conflict among other things.

Media houses in South Africa play an active role by disseminating the news of what they perceive as illegal activities of migrants, further putting pressure on the government and the institutional apparatus to act. By portraying a link between immigration and crime, the media can intensify public opinion and promote moral panic.

Thus, our assumption is that immigration framed in terms of ‘invasion’, ‘takeover’ and ‘illegality’ could lead to increased estimates of the immigrant population and in-turn influence anti-immigration policy views. In South Africa in particular, irregular migration coupled with criminal activity is viewed negatively. It is inevitable that illegality can be associated with stronger anti-immigration attitudes. In general, we theorize that South African news coverage of immigration has an impact on public attitudes and perceptions. Thus, our hypothesis predicts that immigration framed in terms of “invasion” or ‘takeover’ is suggestive of a huge immigrant population in South Africa and could influence an anti-immigration policy stance.

General Objective of the study

The proposed research seeks to provide a knowledge base of how immigrants are represented in the South African media. The project aims at mitigating the effects of the negative representation of migrants on South African media.

Research Questions

The research intends to investigate and answer the following research questions:

  1. How are immigrants/immigration represented by the media in South Africa?
  2. What is the impact of positive and negative media representations on immigrant inclusion or exclusion in the South African society?
  3. Where do journalists derive news on immigrants/immigration from?
  4. Which media is specifically designed for immigrants and are immigrant views revealed in the media?

Tags: immigrants    Media    refugees    South Africa    stereotypes