Migration Coverage in Europe, Russia and the United States

A Comparative Analysis of Coverage in 17 Countries (2015-2018)





comparative analysis, journalism, migration, refugee, media coverage


Six years after the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ in 2015, the European Union remains divided on questions of migration and asylum policy. The issue also remains high on the agendas of the USA and Russia, two other key destination countries with immigration from Latin America and the Post-Soviet space. This article presents results from a comparative study of news coverage in 17 countries, focusing on 10 EU member states in Western and Central Eastern Europe (CEE), the USA and Russia. The intensity of coverage was remarkably different, with Hungary’s and Germany’s media standing out while Russian media displayed relatively low levels of coverage. Individual migrants and refugees were most visible in the two outlets from the USA. Media in CEE countries tended towards a more critical approach than media in Western Europe. However, differences between most countries’ pairs of analyzed media outlets indicate a more pluralistic debate than frequently assumed.

Author Biographies

Marcus Kreutler, Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism, TU Dortmund University

Marcus Kreutler is a research fellow at the Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism at TU Dortmund University, Germany. He has participated in several international research projects, including co-ordination of this study as well as a previous comparative research effort by the European Journalism Observatory into coverage of the 2014 Ukraine conflict. He is mainly interested in foreign coverage and transnational communication.

Susanne Fengler, Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism, TU Dortmund University

Susanne Fengler is the academic director of the Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism and a full Professor of international journalism at the Institute of Journalism, TU Dortmund University, Germany. She has directed numerous comparative research projects, among them “Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe”, and most recently the “Global Handbook of Media Accountability”. In 2021, she has published the UNESCO Handbook for Journalism Educators “Reporting on Migrants and Refugees”.

Nastaran Asadi, Complutense University of Madrid

Nastaran Asadi, is a PhD candidate at the Journalism and New Media Department, Faculty of Information Sciences, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. Her dissertation thesis focuses on Media Frames and Reinterpretation, in which she investigates the influence of the news on public opinion using methods of discourse analysis.

Svetlana Bodrunova, St. Petersburg State University

Svetlana S. Bodrunova is a Professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, St. Petersburg State University, Russia. She leads the Center for International Media Research at her university and has (co-)authored two books, several chapters, and 100+ papers in Russian and English. Her research interests include public sphere theories, Russian media and politics, social media and conflict, automated text analysis, and ethnicity in communication.

Halyna Budivska, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

Halyna Budivska is a Senior Lecturer at Mohyla School of Journalism, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine. Her research interests include media systems, journalism culture, media ethics, journalists’ role perceptions, and media transformations. Recently, she has contributed to “The Global Handbook of Media Accountability” (2022) as a co-author of the chapter on Ukraine.

Layire Diop, Francis Marion University, South Carolina

Layire Diop is an Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at Francis Marion University, South Carolina, USA. His research and teaching interests include broadcast journalism, broadcast production, media ethics and regulation. His works also consider development communication with a specific focus on the use of information and communication technologies in development processes. Dr. Diop has 15 years of experience as a journalist and news coordinator at Senegal’s National Television (RTS).

Georgia Ertz, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano

Georgia Ertz is a former research assistant at Università della Svizzera italiana, Institute of Media and Journalism, and is now a professional in the retail sector.

Daria Gigola, University of Wrocław

Daria Gigola is a PhD student at the College of Political and Administrative Silences at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. Her research interests include political communication, social media, traditional media, Russian media system, content analysis. Her PhD dissertation is dedicated to Russian social networking service VKontakte.

Eszter Katus, Mérték Media Monitor, Budapest

Eszter Katus has been working as a journalist-editor at Átlátszó (Romania’s only independent non-profit investigative newsroom) since 2019. She also represents Átlátszó in various projects and programs and teaches journalism to communication students at Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary. Earlier she was a freelance journalist and wrote media analyses for the Hungarian watchdog organization Mérték Media Monitor.

Denisa Kovacs, University of Bucharest

Denisa Kovacs, is a PhD candidate at The Faculty of Journalism and Communication Studies, University of Bucharest, Romania. Her research interests include mediatization theory, mass communication as well as religion and communication with an emphasis on religious leaders and attribution theory. Her latest title is “Attribution Theory” in “The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion”, 2020.

Michał Kuś, University of Wrocław

Michał Kuś, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism (Institute of Political Science) at the University of Wrocław, Poland. His research interests include media systems, especially aspects of media control, ownership, and regulation, and relations between media and politics. He is the project director and editor of the European Journalism Observatory Polish website.

Filip Láb, Charles University Prague

Filip Láb was the head of the Department of Journalism at Charles University Prague, with a research focus on photojournalism, photographic ethics, and the impact of digitization on photographic practices. He was also a guarantor of doctoral study programs, former Vice-Dean, chairman of the legislative commission, long-time senator of the Academic Senate and member of the Research Board at Charles University Prague, as well as the head of the Czech branch of the European Journalism Observatory.

Anna Litvinenko, Freie Universität Berlin

Anna Litvinenko, PhD, is a researcher at the Institute for Media and Communication Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. In 2015–2020, she was a member of the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group “Mediating (Semi-)Authoritarianism – The Power of the Internet in the Post-Soviet World” at FU Berlin. Her research interests include the role of social media in various socio-political contexts, internet governance, political communication in authoritarian regimes.

Johanna Mack, Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism, TU Dortmund University

Johanna Mack is a PhD candidate in the graduate school „MEDAS21-Media Development Assistance in the 21st Century”, researching the transformation and development of media systems in unstable contexts (case study: Guinea-Bissau). Her research interests include media development, international journalism studies and media and migration. She has co-authored two case studies in the UNESCO Handbook Reporting on Migrants and Refugees (2021) and recently published a „Research Review for Media Development Practitioners” on media systems theory.

Scott Maier, UO School of Journalism and Communication, Eugene

Scott R. Maier, PhD is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Oregon, USA. His research interests include news accuracy, numeracy, international reporting and human rights. A former newspaper reporter, he is widely published in professional news media and academic journals.

Ana Pinto Martinho, ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon

Ana Pinto Martinho is a PhD candidate at ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon, and a research assistant at CIES-Iscte – Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology, Portugal. She is the Portuguese editor of the European Journalism Observatory and a contributor to the Digital News Report (RISJ). Her main research interests are data and journalism, information visualization, trust in news media, media literacy, new journalism formats and journalism teaching.

Antonia Matei, University of Bucharest

Antonia Matei, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Journalism and Communication Sciences, University of Bucharest, Romania. For more than 10 years, she has been a reporter and editor at the Romanian Broadcasting Corporation. Her research interests include journalistic cultures and values, the fake news phenomenon and comparative media and communication research.

Kaitlin C. Miller, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

Kaitlin C. Miller is an Assistant Professor in the Journalism and Creative Media Department at the University of Alabama, USA. She is on the Executive Committee for the Office of Politics, Communication, and Media at the University of Alabama, where she explores research related to political news, journalistic well-being, and media ethics. As a former television reporter, she teaches and researches many aspects of journalistic work.

Lisa Oppermann, Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism, TU Dortmund University

Lisa Oppermann is a former research assistant at the Erich-Brost-Institut for International Journalism and currently a graduate student at the University of Munich, Germany. Her research interests include war and crisis reporting, with a special emphasis on East Africa.

Eva Pérez Vara, Complutense University of Madrid

Eva Pérez Vara is a political scientist and PhD candidate in Journalism at Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. She researches the evaluation of local governments as promoters of democracy and human rights. She is also a member of a research group at UCM that has published some articles on migrations.

Gábor Polyák, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Gábor Polyák is an Associate Professor and the head of the Media and Communication Department of Eötvös Loránd University, and a senior research fellow at the Centre for Social Sciences, Hungary. His research interests include media law, media policy, media systems, and normative media theories.

Rajeev Ravisankar, UO School of Journalism and Communication, Eugene

Rajeev Ravisankar is a PhD student in media studies at the University of Oregon. His research interests are grounded in a political economy of media approach and focus on news media labor organizing and cooperatives as worker-led initiatives to change newsroom and media industry conditions.

Carlos Rodríguez Pérez, Universidad de La Sabana

Carlos Rodríguez Pérez is a Professor at the School of Communication at the Universidad de La Sabana, Colombia. He is also a Ph.D. student at the Complutense University of Madrid. He holds a Combined Degree in Journalism and Audio-visual Communication (Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain) and an MA in Political Communication (IUIOG-Madrid). His research lines focus on media studies, framing, disinformation, and fact-checking journalism.

Dimitrina J. Semova, Complutense University of Madrid

Dimitrina J. Semova is a lecturer in Advertising and Media Ethics at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. Her latest projects and publications focus on issues such as political and social activism, diversity and artivism. Other research interests include political communication, public service media and communication structure.

Dimitris Skleparis, Newcastle University

Dimitris Skleparis is a lecturer in the Politics of Security at Newcastle University, United Kingdom. His research focuses on how migration is governed, portrayed, and experienced amid increasing insecurities. He has published in a range of international peer-reviewed journals and has contributed to several edited volumes, research project reports, and policy briefs.

Sergio Splendore, Università degli Studi di Milano

Sergio Splendore is an Associate Professor, at the Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy. His research interests are journalism and political communication, in which fields he has published more than 50 articles in journals such as “Journalism”, “Journalism Studies”, “Digital Journalism”, “Journalism Practice”, “International Journal of Press/Politics”, “New Media and Society” among others.

Adam Szynol, University of Wrocław

Adam Szynol is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Journalism and Social Communication at the University of Wrocław, Poland. His main field of the research and publications are focused on the regional media, though he also observes global trends in the media and how they influence the journalistic profession.

Décio Telo, ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon

Décio Telo holds a Master’s Degree in Communication, Culture and Information Technology and a degree in Sociology from ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon. He is currently manager of the MediaLab Iscte, a communication sciences research laboratory. He is the executive coordinator of the Portuguese online news Barometer, a product developed in partnership with a leading tech company. As a coauthor, he published texts related to news analysis, journalism and sociology of the media.

Rrapo Zguri, University of Tirana

Rrapo Zguri is a lecturer of new media and online journalism at the Department of Journalism and Communication, University of Tirana, Albania. He holds a PhD degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Tirana. He has worked for several Albanian newspapers as a reporter, editor, and editor-in-chief and has also written several scientific articles, books and textbooks. His research interests include online journalism and new developments in the field of media.


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How to Cite

Kreutler, M., Fengler, S., Asadi, N., Bodrunova, S., Budivska, H., Diop, L., Ertz, G., Gigola, D., Katus, E., Kovacs, D., Kuś, M., Láb, F., Litvinenko, A., Mack, J., Maier, S., Pinto Martinho, A., Matei, A., Miller, K. C., Oppermann, L., Pérez Vara, E., Polyák, G., Ravisankar, R., Rodríguez Pérez, C., Semova, D. J., Skleparis, D., Splendore, S., Štefaniková, S., Szynol, A., Telo, D., & Zguri, R. (2022). Migration Coverage in Europe, Russia and the United States: A Comparative Analysis of Coverage in 17 Countries (2015-2018). Central European Journal of Communication, 15(2(31), 202-226. https://doi.org/10.51480/1899-5101.15.2(31).2



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