IOM, Xavier University Advocate for Humanised Migration Reporting Among Young Journalists in Northern Mindanao
Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines – Migration in the Philippines is a complex phenomenon that cuts across many facets of migrants’ experiences. Recognising the critical role media plays in shaping our understanding of their stories, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), together with Xavier University (XU) – Ateneo de Cagayan, launched the first Global Migration Media Academy (GMMA) Youth Camp in Northern Mindanao to equip young, aspiring journalists with the foundation to humanise public discourse on migration. Now in its third year, the GMMA continues its advocacy on strengthening ethical and accurate reporting on migration, focusing on inclusive, balanced and evidence-based knowledge sharing in the current media ecosystem.
Following the success of the GMMA Summer School at Galway, Ireland in 2022, the three-day Youth Camp brought together 20 students of journalism and development communication with local journalists, media professors, GMMA alumni and IOM experts who shared their expertise and experiences through a lecture series. The sessions shed light on the importance of the nexus of human mobility, climate change and peacebuilding in the country. This is especially pertinent to the region given its history of climate-induced disasters that were often made more complex by protracted conflict.
“I am happy and grateful for XU's partnership through the Development Communications Department with the IOM. It is my hope that this exposure of our students to migration issues locally and abroad will enhance their learning and formation as communicators of the truth," said Fr. Mars Tan, President of Xavier University.
Halfway through the youth camp, the students at Xavier University were given the opportunity to exercise their learning from the lectures through a field visit in Xavier Ecoville, the first university-led resettlement project in the world. Residents of Xavier Ecoville were displaced by the aftermath of Typhoon Sendong (international name: Washi) in 2011 – largely a result of sudden onset climate change. IOM provided a mental health and psychosocial support session for the residents to mitigate revictimisation and prepare them for their interviews with the students. The exchanges introduced the students to the delicate conduct of gathering stories with empathy and respect, supplementing their college education with a practical application of theoretical knowledge.
“The mental health of migrants and displaced persons is a priority for IOM, including those in Xavier Ecoville. In training future journalists to capture the human stories of migration, it is important that reporting be balanced with safeguarding migrants and their communities,” said Tristan Burnett, Chief of Mission of the IOM Mission in the Philippines. “This exercise provides students with pivotal experience in handling sensitive discussions with displaced communities and the larger migrant population.”
The GMMA Youth Camp was designed to encourage a collaborative approach to migration media training by providing students the opportunity to both learn from experienced journalists and produce their own migration stories. Graduates from the GMMA Summer School mentored the students and assisted them in refining their stories following their lessons on journalistic values and do-no-harm principles. The students’ final outputs are expected to be published on the GMMA website, serving as a platform for these migrant-centred stories to reach a larger audience.
“What really struck me the most was realising how hard it is to report on these kinds of [migration] issues with the impact they give, not only to the affected communities but to us storytellers,” said Val Mathew Gabutan, a sophomore Development Communication student at Xavier University. “This has inspired me to do better as a journalist, to uphold these values and do my work more effectively.”
The GMMA Youth Camp supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10, particularly Target 10.7 on facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, by training aspiring and experienced journalists to accurately and ethically report on migration.
The GMMA is an initiative co-funded by the IOM Development Fund and Irish Aid, and works to end misinformation on human mobility and develop a healthy discourse on migrant populations.
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