Virtually Bridging Boundaries: Ushering a new era of cross-border labour migration reporting

This webinar organized by the FAIRWAY Programme welcomed students and lecturers from universities in Uganda and Jordan, and professionals journalists around the world, to share their experiences on cross-border journalism.

News | 24 November 2023

Cross-border journalism is increasingly being used by professional journalists, notably those reporting on labour migration. By joining forces and working collaboratively along migration corridors, journalists can produce compelling and accurate reports on complex migration topics and overcome some of the inherent constraints related to reporting labour migration, such as limited financial resources or mobility. Journalism students and their educators can also play a key part in building the skill set needed by future journalists to collaborate across corridors.

The objectives of the webinar were to: a) Explore the relevance of cross-border journalism in reporting on labour migration; b) Present and discuss a recent ILO cross-border collaboration between journalism schools in Uganda and Jordan; c) Encourage journalism educators and journalists to consider cross-border collaborations, notably in the framework of the annual ILO global media competition on labour migration.

To be able to understand how journalists, journalism educators and students are engaging on these issues, the webinar welcomed various speakers with different backgrounds. Journalists Bhrikuti Rai, based in Kathmandu and Fabian Federl, based in Europe shared their experience on collaborating together on a cross-border journalistic story on the growing phenomenon of Nepalese labour migrants going to Portugal.

Bhrikuti explained that by working together with Fabian, they were able to uncover a lot more than what they had initially expected since Fabian speaks Portuguese and has connections there, while Bhrikuti was able to connect with the Nepali labour migrants.

Among their challenges were the mobility of a journalist going to the other country, working with a foreign editor in a different language, and publishing in more than one media outlet. Journalismfund Europe supported the investigation of Bhrikuti and Fabian, and other cross-border journalism, and Paola Condemayta (position) spoke about grants and mentorship opportunities for journalists.

Farah Jallad from Arab Investigative Journalism Network spoke about living “in a world where mobility is on the rise but there are factors that hinder human rights, fairness, accountability and democracy”. Instead, through investigative journalism they try to overcome these challenges and divisions.

Investigative journalists can do excellent work but their ability to have an impact might be limited. Therefore, coordination between journalists in different countries (for example between the Arab region and outside the Arab region), or different areas would give the journalists greater support, greater capabilities, and can reach a broader sector and audience.

Sophia Kagan, ILO FAIRWAY Programme spoke about a unique initiative implemented with journalism students in Jordan and Uganda on cross-border journalism, a practice which allows for a more nuanced and richer reporting. John Baptist Imokola, journalism lecturer at the Makerere University in Uganda, said that it was the first time they took part in a project where their students worked jointly with students from another university on a reporting. They benefited from getting different perspectives because many of the stories in Uganda are negative, especially those about Ugandan migrant workers. The main challenge was the language barrier between Ugandan students studying in English and Jordanian students in Arabic, furthermore, not having a specialised course on labour migration.

All stories that students produced can be found in a so-called ‘anthology’. During the webinar, two students, Lule and Safaa, shared their experience on working together within this cross-border fellowship between Uganda and Jordan. Lule reiterated that their main challenge was the language barrier, which they overcame by using Google translate.

Safaa on the other hand highlighted that she benefitted from the fellowship by learning about humanitarian issues and how migrant workers are often portrayed in a negative way in the media.

Ruba Zeidan, lecturer at the Middle East University in Jordan and one of the educators participating in the fellowship underlined that this collaboration is very important as it enables students to understand how to cover a humanitarian story but also how to present it in a way that also appeals to an audience in another part of the world.

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