Press handling of asylum is improving, says campaigner

Refugee Council urges journalists to see refugees as remarkable and deserving of admiration.

Balanced: recent press coverage
Balanced: recent press coverage

Coverage of asylum seekers in the UK press has improved in recent years, according to the Refugee Council's director of comms.

Some years ago anti-asylum stories were appearing 'almost every day' and words such as 'scum' were regularly used to describe asylum seekers, said Tim Finch.

'Five years on, the deep vitriol has dissipated somewhat, due in part to the huge fall in the number of asylum seekers coming to the UK,' he said.

Finch stressed that hostility still existed in certain sections of the national press 'where the editorial line is deeply entrenched and coverage lacks any sense of balance'.

But he pointed to encouraging developments in local and regional media - and in some of the national media.

'We find uplifting reports of refugees achieving great things, heartwarming accounts of friendship between local people and newcomers, and stories of communities acting together to prevent the deportation of individuals and families who have become their friends,' he said.

'It is right that there is a debate about asylum policy, but it should be a rational and humane one. Above all, we need to encourage journalists to see refugees as vulnerable, but also remarkable people, deserving of kindness and admiration.'

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