Global Migration Media Academy Charter Guidance of Ethics for Journalists

This guidance is designed to help media outlets, journalist unions, and associations develop their own charter on migration reporting. It draws on previous experiences and provides suggestions on key provisions that may be included in such documents.

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1. Why design a charter on migration reporting?

Media monitoring in numerous countries has showed that the media coverage of migration does not always meet standard journalistic deontology. Inappropriate terminology, misuse of images, lack of diversity of sources can be among the common problems. A charter on migration reporting, when designed collectively and disseminated widely, can help advise journalists and editors on the key considerations they should bear in mind when producing information on migration-related issues.

2. What are the existing charters that can be a source of inspiration?

Numerous codes of conducts and charter exist around the world. The website “Accountable journalism” has developed a database with 400+ documents which is being regularly updated. Within this body of work, some migration-specific documents exist. Here are some examples, in different languages and scope:

3.  What are the different sections that a charter can include?

The charter should focus on providing guidance on key aspects of migration reporting. Below are some of  these critical issues: 

Terminology: the charter can advise journalist to be careful of the terminology they use and, ideally, refer them to existing tools such as glossaries on migration such as the IOM glossary on migration or the media friendly glossary on migration.  

Accuracy: the charter can remind journalists that one of the key aspect of journalism deontology is the search for accuracy. This can be done by verifying information or diversifying sources of information. Sources and frames: research on migration reporting has showed that standard frames tend to dominate the narratives and that many stories lack diversity of sources. For example, “us vs. them” or “heroes or threats”. The charter can advise journalists to be careful when reporting about fueling stereotypical frames and suggest to diversify sources.  

Empathy and humanity:
much reporting on migration can lead to dehumanize migrants and refugees, sometime leading to harmful consequences. Journalists should be reminded of the “do not harm” principle and seek to apply it in their reporting.  

migrants and refugees might be subject to discrimination. Journalists through their reporting can highlight these challenges and the charter can promote non-discrimination in news reporting.  

Specific groups:
in a charter, it might be interesting to highlight issues related to specific groups with vulnerabilities. This is the case for example of refugees or victims of human trafficking. Journalists should use special care when reporting stories involving sources from these specific groups.  

how does gender, youth, race, or faith have an impact on the lived experiences of migrants. The charter can inform journalists on intersectionality and how that can apply to journalism reporting.  

many issues with migration reporting have been associated with the misuse or manipulation of images. Providing guidance on using appropriate imagery should be an important part of any charter on migration reporting.  

journalist should reach out to relevant expertise when reporting on migration. The charter can remind journalist the importance of sources and eventually include advice to identify relevant local expertise.  

getting informed consent from sources is a fundamental part of journalism. It is highly important in the context of migration and can be included in a charter. IOM has developed an app to help journalists gather consent.  

international migration is inevitably related to nationality. In the context of reporting migration this can lead to the scapegoating of specific communities. Guidance on how to report nationality, notably in the context of crime, can be helpful.  

The table below illustrates how some of the existing resources include guidance on the issues mentioned above. When drafting a charter, it might be useful to look at the wording that is used in these documents:

Charter of Rome

World ethical charter

Charter of Idomeni

Charter for ethical reporting

Common ethical charter

Five point guide

LATAM do’s and don’ts

Chile do’s and don’ts

Press council guidelines



Diversity of sources,frames


Non discrimination

Refugees, trafficking victims

Gender, minor, minorities




Country of origin