Journalists get guidance on asylum stories

Amnesty International, working with the NUJ in Scotland, has produced a guide to help journalists navigate their way through the ethical and linguistic minefield of reporting on asylum.

The 64-page glossy booklet includes a comprehensive glossary of official jargon, facts and figures, a section on myths and a list of useful contacts.

The guide seeks to disprove theories that asylum-seekers are a drain on the state, that the UK takes a disproportionate number of asylum-seekers compared with other countries and that most are economic migrants.

Amnesty’s Scotland spokesman, John Watson, said: “At the time of the murder of the asylum-seeker, Firsat Dag, in Glasgow in 2001, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] was moved to condemn the UK media for tarnishing the name of refugees and asylum-seekers and inciting racist violence.

“We feel coverage in Scotland has progressed a great deal since then and welcome the efforts of a number of journalists to represent refugees and asylum-seekers fairly and accurately.

“We are delighted at the strong moral stance the NUJ is taking on this issue and hope that this guide and other related initiatives will help us to move towards a time when UNHCR will feel compelled to applaud the UK, and Scotland in particular, for its excellent and balanced coverage of the issue.”

Paul Holleran, the NUJ’s Scottish organiser, said: “If journalism cannot be trusted, it has no value and a limited future.

“The NUJ has a duty to campaign for higher standards in the press, both in the skills and ethical sense. This guide is part of that campaign, providing a resource and helping journalists pursue and report the truth.”

The glossy booklet has been sent to all Scottish NUJ members. Anyone else wishing to obtain a copy should call the Scottish NUJ office on 0141 248 6648.

By Dominic Ponsford

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