Migration Reporting in Nigeria: Towards an Effective Model
Andrew Asan Ate1*, Peter Egielewa1and Mahamudul Hasan2
1Department of Mass Communication, Edo University, Iyamho, Edo State, Nigeria
2Department of Mass Communication, Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria
- *Corresponding Author:
- Andrew Asan Ate, Ph.D
Department of Mass Communication
Iyamho Edo State, Nigeria
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Received date: Jan 18, 2019; Accepted date: Jan 26, 2019; Published date: Jan 31, 2019
Citation: Ate AA, Egielewa P, Hasan M. Migration Reporting in Nigeria: Towards an Effective Model. Global Media Journal 2019, 17:32.
Copyright: © 2019 Ate AA, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Different scholars have developed communication models which have attempted to address micro and macro issues in Mass Communication. However, migration which is a critical component of population change is in dire need of a model which will engender academic and professional paradigm shift from casual approach to more serious approach in dissecting migration issues in Nigeria and indeed Africa. This paper, which is anchored on Knowles (1989) three step building concept, intends to address this grave concern. This study - Ate, Egielewa and Ikerodah’s proposed Migration reporting Model (MRM) 2018 recommended that the proposed model be endorsed and approved by relevant stakeholder of migration and be subjected to rigorous intellectual criticisms to make it better and realistic. The discourse recommended that the model be included in the curriculum of all Mass Communication departments in Nigerian Universities, Monotechnics and Polytechnics under a population communication oriented curriculum.
Migration; Reporting; Nigeria; Effective;
Migration in the 21st Century has become an issue of
serious concern to policy makers and scholars of diverse
background. Ideas and money are on the move. People,
animals, goods and services are also on the move in this era
more than ever witnessed in the history of mankind. A
combination of factors like urbanization, conflicts, natural
disasters, social and economic adventure among others are
responsible for both internal and external migration.
Sociologists have over the years attempted to formulate
models of migration. The best known and widely used
typology of migration was developed by the sociologist
William Petersen. (NIJ Integrated Health and Population
Communication Curriculum, undated, p.34)
There are also other models like Lewis model of rural-urban
migration, Fei Renis model on rural-urban migration, Harris-
Todaro model of rural-urban migration among others which
attempt to explain some elements and dynamics of migration
from the sociological perspective.
To the best of our knowledge, mass communication scholars
have neglected the study of migration model despite the fact
that migration is an issue that is now attracting serious media
attention in terms of coverage and research. Narula  noted
that “in the last six decades, there has been a great hunt for
communication models.” There lies the desirability and
inevitability of a search towards an effective migration
reporting model. This study therefore intends to fill the gap of
helping us to visualize, analyze and discuss complex process
which otherwise would be difficult to explain .
Objective of the Study
This study is set to develop an effective model for migration
reporting in Nigeria.
This work is anchored on the three steps model builder
concept advocated by Knowles . The steps are as follows:
• Step 1: Define the problem (Boundaries of the
environment that the model represents must be defined by
studying the decision environment to determine the subset
of it to be analyzed).
• Step 2: Construct the decision model (for the subset to be
analyzed, construct a model incorporating those factors
judged to be important)
• Step 3: “Solve” the model, analyze results. (The model is
solved, sensitivity analysis is performed, and the model is
The two key concepts in this study are migration and model.
The concepts are explained for better understanding.
Migration is the movement of people from one place to live
in another. Migration can be understood from two points of
view: Emigration and Immigration: Emigration is the
movement of people out of their own country (Emigrants),
while immigration is the movement of people into a country
that is not their own (immigrants). Migration can be caused by
several factors which include; environmental social, economic
and political .
Other factors are decision making process of individuals that
shape their operations and perception of potential places to
move to, and social-economic networks that affect migration
Migration is not a new phenomenon. It is, however, more
than ever before, a global phenomenon that is closely related
to a number of other globalization process both its causes and
effects . There is almost no part of the world that is not
importing or exporting labor.
The interplay of the push and pull factors are essential
ingredients for migration to occur. Pushes factors are those
reasons that make a person (emigrant) decide to leave his own
country to another.
Generally, such push factors are negative things and may
include unemployment, war, famine, flooding, poor harvest,
droughts, poor educational opportunities, absence of
amenities and poor services. On the other hand, pull factors
are the expectations (or potentials) which attract or lure
people to the new place. Unlike push factors which are
negative, pull factors are generally positive things which can
include: better job opportunities including higher wages,
higher standard of living, and ease of doing business, better
education and better healthcare.
Migrants are classified based on whether a third party was
involved in their leaving their own country to another. Thus,
there are migrants who leave their country voluntarily. This
type of migration is called voluntary migration. These migrants
leave their countries either due to better weather condition
such as when Europeans migrate to the countries where there
is more warmth or sun.
Some leave to cheaper climes to enjoy their retirements or
just principally to learn about other cultures. Some economic
migrants are voluntary such as when a migrant leaves his
country for better working condition abroad although he/she
has a good paying job back at home.
There are also migrants who leave their countries by force,
not out of their own will. Such are referred to as involuntary
migration. Factors that cause involuntary migration include
outbreak of war, natural disasters such as Tsunami, Flooding or
wild fires, drought, and outbreak of a communicable disease.
Most involuntary emigrants are also called refugees.
Africans demonstrate a higher desire to emigrate than
people from other continents as the diagram below shows  (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Diagram showing the desire to emigrate by citizens
of different continents as ta 2017.
Review of Migration Reporting
Migration and migrants are encountered in different forms
by people. Some people have encountered this either because
they have come in contact with migrants in their
neighbourhoods or they have heard about migrants and
migration from the media through films, newspapers, radio or
the internet. How people eventually react to such information
depends both on the way and manner they received the
information and their personal situations. Unfortunately most
information are carried from the point of view of high income
countries (or developed countries), what many migrations
scholars term as the “destination countries” . What,
however, is an incontrovertible fact is that humans have
always moved from one place to another mainly due to
persecution and seeking to improve one’s economic situation
The interest of the media in migration has been as a result
of several factors. “Allen, et al.  named two of such factors
• Rising anti-immigration rhetoric in many parts of the world
• Recent gains by anti-immigration political parties especially
in western democracies .
In Europe, for example, many voters have in recent times
moved to the so-called (challenger parties) because of their
strong stance against immigration, propelled in part by
negative and sometimes hostile media coverage of
immigration issues .
In addition to the media’s role in influencing immigration
narrative in the society, political debates, demographic
changes, actual or imagined socioeconomic impacts, wider
economic (austerity) policies are factors that determine how
immigrants are seen and discussed in any given society [12,
However, the eventual determinants of the pattern and
context of how the media covers immigration discourse and
narrative are first the media landscape of the given society
that is how free the press operates in such a society. Freedom
of the press is the bedrock upon which an ideal society is built.
A free media environment is “where coverage of political
news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state
intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not
subject to onerous legal or economic pressures” [14,15]. In a
society where there is free press, the media can inform voters
about current events and hold public officials accountable as
well scrutinize institutions without being victimized or
influenced by those institutions or individuals”.
In 2017, only 13 per cent of the world’s population lived in
countries with a free press, while nearly half (45%) of people
lived in countries without a free press and 42% live in
countries with a partly free press . Even in countries with
free press, there is a level to which the government can
influence the narrative because reporters depend to a large
extent on government and other power groups and individuals
for information . Particularly in autocratic societies, the
media coverage of migration issues has the tendency to tilt
towards the position of the state or the state’s interest .
The second determinant of how the media covers
immigration discourse and narrative is to the extent to which
the media in such an environment has become digitized. With
the increasing accessibility to internet and particularly the
growing membership of social media, reporting of migration
issues in the news has changed greatly, with some arguing that
the social media has become a threat to the traditional media.
For instance statistics show that large portions of citizens of
some countries get their news mainly from social media: US
(46%), Brazil (70%), Portugal (66%), Ireland (52%) and Canada
In Africa, migration has been a recalling topic because most
of the migrants into Europe and particularly because majority
of those whose images have been reported in the media as
having being killed in the seas while on their voyages to
Europe have been largely Africans . In this sense, Flahaux
and Hass  would describe Africa as a “continent on the
The general portrayal based on media reporting of
migration in Africa and which has come to be accepted over
the years is that millions of Africans are waiting to cross to
Europe at the first opportunity. The general assumptions from
such stereotypes and media portrayals are three, namely:
• Migration from Africa is high and increasing,
• Such migrations are mainly directed towards Europe, and
• African migrations are driven by poverty and violence.
In the supposed European destinations, African migrations
are rarely welcomed and have been associated with increase
in security problems, international crimes, trafficking and
In all this, Flahaux and Hass  agrees that the problem
derives not only from politicians rhetoric but also from media
reporting. However, what is indisputable is that between 1960
and 2000 the number of African emigrants out of Africa has increased while the number of immigrant from elsewhere into
Africa has decreased as the table below shows (Table 1).
Table 1: Growth in the number of African Migrants between 1960 and 2000.
||From Africa to the rest of the world
||From the rest of the world to Africa
Figure 2 below which shows the growth of migrant numbers
from Africa between 1990 and 2017 reveals a similar result as
in Table 1.
Figure 2: Growth in the number of African Migrants
between 1990 and 2017.
Consequently, Jaiteh  has posited that migration in
Africa is as a result of population pressure, communal, ethnic
and criminal violence, poverty, political strife and corruption.
Media reporting of migration issues in Africa have always
been faced with many challenges, not least because most
African Governments consider the reporting of emigration as a
dent on their performance and an indirect vote of no
confidence on their administrations. African governments,
therefore, did not want too many questions asked (by the
media) as to why numbers of people, mainly the young, were
leaving their countries.
One direct implication of such tensions is that most media in
Africa are not free and under serious political pressure they
undertake self-censorship. In many cases, journalists are
targeted and politically persecuted.
Figure 3 below shows that the 1st (Somalia), 4th (South
Sudan and 11th (Nigeria) were among the leading twelve
nations where journalist were killed with impunity in the 2017
Global Impunity Index 2017 .
Figure 3: Showing positions of countries with the highest
number of unresolved cases of five or more journalists
killed in the course of their work. Source: www.cpj.com.
In In Gambia, for instance, media organizations are expected
to deposit an obligatory bond sum of $16,000 before starting
operation which is for most media bodies impossible to raise
in a country where most people live on less than 1$ a day .
Thus, many journalists in Gambia prefer to report only on “safe
topics”. The Government continues to make efforts, therefore
to influence the media narrative on migration to its favor. In
one instance, Gambia state-controlled “Standard newspaper”
had to start running regular stories on the plight of Gambians
in Libya and at camps in Italy. The consequence is that, families
of relatives abroad started enquiring from the newspaper (by
extension the Government) what the fate of their children and
relatives abroad was. This strategy was used to show that
“home” was better and safe than the migration hazards and
this painted the picture that the government was doing all its
power to make home “safe” and “enjoyable” for all Gambians.
After the mass migration that was witnessed worldwide in
2015, many people have criticized the way the media reported
about migrant and migrations. This prompted the Ethical
Journalism Network (EJN), a non-Governmental Organization,
to publish “Moving Stories” an international review of how
media cover migration. This led further to the publication of a
five point Guide for migration reporting in 2016 which has now
formed the basis for EJN training of journalists around Europe
and elsewhere in the last few years. These five points have
been summarized under the following headings:
• Facts not bias
• Know the law
• Show humanity
• Speak for all
• Challenge the hate 
This document has now become beneficial not just to
European journalists but also to African journalists around the
Migration reporting model is desirable and inevitable
because there is lack of indigenous models in Nigeria that address the critical issue of migration. The model will provide
a benchmark for professional journalists and equip them to
better handle migration reporting. For scholars this model will
provide an initial framework for the emergence of other
models on the subject matter.
Different communication scholars held their views on the
concept of model. Folarin  sees a model as “a symbolic
representation designed to help us visualize the relationship
among various elements of a structure, system or process for
purposes of discussion and analyses.” In a similar direction,
Hassan  describes a model as “nothing but mechanistic
perspective of human communication that effectively tells at a
glance how it works.” A model is a presentation of the real
phenomenon in abstract terms that can be applied at different
One way to analyze communication is to present it in form
of a model . Apostel  contends that “a model forms a
bridge between the observational and theoretical levels and
are concerned with simplification, reduction, concretization,
action, experimentation, extension, globalization, theory
formulation and explanation.” Models are basic theories
concerning the elements of communication and how they
operate and interact.
Hassan  noted that models are “based on assumption
that theorists make as to how communication functions and
what effect it has upon individual and society.” The formulator
focuses on the aspect of reality that he finds most important
for his purpose .
Communication models have the ability to demystify
complex issues for easy comprehension of scholars. Daramola
 outlines the strengths of models:
First, models help to clarify the structure of complex events.
Second, models provide a frame of reference for scientific
enquiry. Third, models are heuristic stimulus that is they
crystallize new ideas and new ways of looking at things and
lastly, models help to make predictions about the real world.
Irrespective of the advantages of models, some scholars
also pointed out the limitations of same. Ate  noted that “a
model is a means to an end and not an end in itself” In line
with Ate’s observation, Folarin,  criticized models as “highly
selective and do not represent a holistic picture of a reality.”
Communication models come in a variety of forms, ranging
from catchy summations to diagram to mathematical
formulas. This takes us to the issue of clarification of models.
Narula  argues that the “format of communication models
depends on how we define and understand the process of
communication and these are applicable to different forms of
communication.” She takes us deep into the intellectual
excursion of communication models in terms of classification,
stages of development and types:
Models are classified in three categories: stages, types and
forms of models. There have been four stages in the
development of communication models: Action, Interaction,
Transaction and Convergence. There are two types of
communication models: Linear and non-linear. These can be presented in forms such as symbolic model, physical model,
mental models, verbal models, iconic models, analogue
models and mathematical models.
Different experts have over the years formulated diverse
models of communication. The earliest communication model
was proposed by Aristotle – the Greek philosopher in his book
RHETORIC. The model was applicable to public speaking than
interpersonal communication. There was Laswell model
(1948), Shannon and Weaver model (1949) and Wendell
Johnson model (1951). Also there was Berlo’s model (1960),
Defleur’s model (1966) and Kincaid convergence model (1979)
among others. Let us consider the migration reporting model
under probe in this study (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Design and Discussion of Migration Reporting
Elements of the Model
The key elements of migration models are:
The Environment: This is the first component of the model.
Environment in this context refers to the domain where the
reporter is operating. We have the political, social, economic,
legal, cultural and religious layers of the environment which
the migration reporter must understand and design his/her
message to fit into it. The environmental layers are situated
under macro environment defined by Nwosu and Uffoh  as
the “wider or more general socio-economic and political
domains including the ecosystem itself whose factors, forces
and actors influence the organization’s internal and micro
environments or the changes/developments within these
internal and micro environments (e.g economic, cultural,
political, technological factors, etc).”
The Reporter: The reporter as a second component of
migration reporting model is connected to the macro
environment that triggers the push and pull migration factors.
Cambridge Dictionary describes a reporter as a person whose
job is to discover information about news events and describe
them for a newspaper or for radio or television.
Message: The third property of this model is message which
is an idea, statement, information conveyed from one person
or group to another. The message could be objective (straight
forward news reports devoid of the writer’s assertion or embellishments) or subjective (based on reporter’s feelings,
opinions, coloration, or embellishments) .
Platform: Platform is the fourth component of the model.
As used in this context, platform referred to media outlets like
social media (Facebook, twitter, whatsapp, myspace,
instagram, etc), broadcast media (radio and television), print
media (books, newspapers, magazines, etc) and trado media
(town crier, gong man, horn man, age group, etc).
Audience: The fifth element of this model is the audience.
The audiences are the people who receive the communication
messages. There are different kinds of audience. These include
serious minded, sophisticated and intelligent people who go
for serious minded articles, politics, editorials, etc. There are
less sophisticated people who are interested in light hearted
materials (pools betting, entertainment, etc). There are also
specialized audiences like sport audiences, business audiences,
Feedback: The sixth element of the model is feedback.
Feedback is the reaction to the message sent to the audience.
Without feedback, communication will be incomplete. It is
expected that the message or information which is sent by the
reporter through various platforms will get to the audience
and their reaction to the message will get back to the
migrating environment which the reporter is connected to.
The model shows that the reporter (communicator) lives in
a migrating environment and is connected to a political, social,
economic, legal, cultural and religious environment that are
charged with push factors ( e.g religious and political
persecution, discrimination, depletion of natural resources,
natural disaster, etc) and pull factors (e.g employment
opportunities, favorable climate, tolerance, etc) migrating
The reporter put across his message objectively or
subjectively through different platforms of his choice (social
media, broadcast media, print media, trado media) to different
kinds of audience – the sophisticated audience with high aura
of media literacy, the specialized audience (experts in the field
of migration) and the obscure or general audience.
The audience receives the message and reacts through a
feedback mechanism which goes back to the reporter. The key
elements in the models are:
• The environment
• The reporter who is interwoven with the environment
• The message
• The platform
The model sees the reporter as a by-product of the
environment where he initiates his communication message.
His understanding of the environment as well as
environmental forces that triggers migration activities and
plays a vital role in his reportorial success or failure along with other determinants like nature of the message, platform,
audience and feedback.
Conclusion and Recommendations
It is an established fact that the times we live in call for
more model of communication to explain dynamics of
communication on diverse issues of public concern. The
proposed model is our hunting initiative to theorize migration
reporting for scholarly and professional benefits. We conclude
therefore that this model is desirable and inevitable for
effective reporting of migration activities in Nigeria and
For a way forward in migration reporting in Nigeria, the
following recommendations are put forward:
The model should be subjected to rigorous intellectual
criticisms to make it better realistic.
That this model should be endorsed and approved by
relevant stakeholders in order to change the face of migration
reporting in Nigeria.
That all departments of mass communication in Nigerian
universities, monotechnics and polytechnics should have a
component of population communication in their curriculum
where this model and other issues of migration could be
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