E.g., 09/30/2014
E.g., 09/30/2014

The Evolution of German Media Coverage of Migration

Reports
October 2009

The Evolution of German Media Coverage of Migration

The German media has helped reinforce the image of immigrants as “foreigners” and “aliens” — sometimes even in exaggerated terms — since the first guest workers came to Germany in the 1950s and 1960s. By focusing primarily on the problems associated with migration and leaving out the positive or even mundane aspects of immigrants’ lives in Germany, the media have helped contribute to an atmosphere of polarization among the German public. These images conditioned the public to think of immigration policy solely in light of the problems caused by new arrivals (which conjured up the image of the country being stretched beyond capacity: “the boat is full”), and not in terms of the need to enact sensible integration policies to help immigrants already residing in Germany.

In 2000, Germany’s migration strategy shifted to reflect the long-overlooked need for integration policies, and with this change, media coverage also transitioned away from regarding immigrants as “foreigners.” Public debates on migration and integration — as well the media’s awareness of, and coverage of, this issue — are likely to evolve further due to three main changes in Germany: First, there is broad political consensus that Germany needs a modern integration policy; second, politicians at the highest level are promoting a dialogue with immigrant communities; and third, the media have begun to cater to immigrant audiences.

Table of Contents 
  1. Executive Summary
  2. Introduction
  3. Media Coverage as a Reflection of the Sociopolitical Debate on Migration
  4. The Evolving Image of Immigrants in the Media