This is a Humanitarian Crisis not Love Island’- Hassan Akkad

Twitter: Simon Jones reporting for the BBC

Unethical Journalism

There are many reasons why this journalism is unsatisfactory, particularly after reviewing the BBC’s code of conduct guidelines, where an initial priority is to ‘act in a way that’s safe and ethical’.


What’s deeply unsettling for me, is that after hinting at the prospect of catastrophe, the reporter says they’ll ‘shadow’ the boat to see how the situation may develop. Based on Seth M. Blazer’s definition of voyeurism as ‘one who seeks stimulation by visual means’; what immediately springs to mind is that the objectification of human beings has occurred in the name of ‘newsworthy’ drama.

Image source: Choose Love via Instagram

Compassion in Context

‘Journalism that cares as well as knows; that is aware of its responsibilities; and will not stand neutrally between good and evil, right and wrong, the victim and the oppressor. This is not to back one side or faction or people against another; it is its most powerful division, do not stand apart from the world. We are part of it. We exercise a certain influence, and we have to know that.’- Martin Bell (1995).

Representation and Deception

In Thomson and Greenwood‘s recent discussion about the framing of migration, they suggest that the representation of displaced people in the news lies within either the ‘victim’ or ‘threat’ frame. In the BBC clip, Simon Jones mentions the ratio of people on the dinghy: ‘some women on board, majority men, majority men’. I take the view of humanitarian organizations: to be a victim should hold no social boundaries. But the ethos in international politics and media, means men do not necessarily qualify.

Image Source: Pixabay

Distant ‘Others’

The ideas taken from Edward Said ‘s ‘Orientalism’, published in 1978 can also be applied to the BBC news clip. Said labels Western countries ‘The Occident’, who dominate Eastern countries- ‘The Orient’, through socially constructed cultural representations for the empowerment of socio-economic and political institutions in the west.

Source: Youtube


Exodus ‘considers the representational strategies, such as multiple, transnational authorship and the use of camera-phones, by which the series attempts to avoid the ‘othering’ gaze of ethnographic cinema or sensational news coverage and humanize the figure of the refugee seeking safe passage to Europe’ (Bennett, 2018).


The dehumanising voyeurism of mainstream news is in stark contrast to the studio interview element in Exodus which enables protagonists like Hassan Akkad to communicate to us directly.

Youtube: Exodus
Image source: Youtube

‘The ‘refugee crisis’ is a representational crisis’

The quote above perfectly summarizes the angle I’ve taken when approaching and analyzing this case study. From documentaries to personal accounts, it is clear for me to see how far from the real picture UK audiences might be, and how much depth the mainstream news sometimes lacks.

Image source: Twitter
Image: @hassanakkad — Instagram.



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Emily Jones-Bateman

Emily Jones-Bateman


BA (Hons) Communication and Media 📚 📝l Political Cynic and Commentator of Media, Society and Culture l Curious about the ideological influence of the media.