A research project analysing the way UK news organisations report on asylum seekers is being undertaken by City academics.

Journalism lecturers Dr Melanie Bunce, director of City’s Humanitarian News Research Network (HNRN), Dr Lindsey Blumell and Dr Glenda Cooper will carry out the research along with Professor Christopher McDowell, who is based in the international politics department.

Dr Bunce said the goal is to analyse the news coverage and find “problematic or misleading” areas, such as false representation of asylum seekers. The project will then use that analysis to help newsrooms develop protocols for their reporting.

She said: “Refugees who apply for residency are often treated unfairly. The media plays a crucial role in this – it can change how we perceive refugees and asylum seekers. So it’s really important to monitor and improve this reporting.”

Official bloggers – such as the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed – are going to be used as case studies for the research, but the main focus will be big news companies including the BBC and The Guardian.

Dr Bunce added that the researchers are going to look at the impact of Brexit, as it is believed that issues around immigration and refugees are one of the key reasons why a majority voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

The HNRN network, which is based in the City journalism department, aims to provide media organisations with feedback, advice and suggestions on areas in which they can improve.

City, University of London and the network connects researchers and practitioners associated with humanitarian news and communication. They aim to get research and insights to journalists and policy makers. There are 300 people currently in the network.

The research will be presented to an academic conference organised by the International Communication Association on 24 May. The conference, which takes place in Prague, Czech Republic, is called “From Fragmentation to Integration: Addressing the Role of Communication in Refugee Crises and Resettlement Processes.

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