The Migrant Other: A Visual and Textual Analysis of Migration in UK Media




McIver, John

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The lead up to the Brexit vote, which occurred in the UK on June 23rd, 2016, marked a politically tumultuous time for the UK. One issue at the forefront of this vote was migration, and the control (or perceived lack of control) over migrants. However, often overlooked is the question of how issues surrounding migration appeared in the media during this unique time and specifically how media can then be a space for the development and strengthening of political discourse. To this end, I examine images embedded in articles from two major news events that coincided with the Brexit vote: the stabbing of Alexandra Mezher, who was killed on January 25th, 2016, and Pope Francis returning from a trip to Lesbos with 12 Syrian refugees who he settled in Rome on April 16th, 2016. In looking at these events, this analysis turns to two “broadsheet” newspapers from the UK: the left-leaning Guardian and the right-leaning Telegraph. Then, with these two events and two newspapers, this paper examines how images become embedded in, and become indicative of, political discourse. I conclude that in the left-leaning Guardian a sympathetic portrayal and discourse surrounding migration is represented, while the right-leaning Telegraph constructs a less sympathetic, and more threatening, discourse regarding migrants and migration. The essay further shows that images are a key factor in the development and reinforcement of politicized discourses.



Migration, Brexit, UK, Refugees, Discourse, Code, Broadsheet newspaper, Visual Representation, Images, Photography, Media