Merav, student of the ASH in Berlin and Virginia & Alexandra, students of the ZHAW School of Social Work, report from the «International Course: Migration and Social Work» in Fribourg.
As a part of the International Course we have been introduced by Prof. Dr. Giada De Coulon and Joyce Bitzberger to the topic «media and migration». The lecture emphasized on different methods of rising journalists’ awareness to the effects of their writings on the public discourse, concerning the subject area of migration. They have been demonstrating us with a few examples how easily the content of an article can be put out of context, effecting people’s deepest fears and reshape their social beliefs.
In an example from a Swiss newscast the moderator explained that «the tragedy shows the scale of the uncontrolled flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea». With the words «uncontrolled flow of migrants» the moderator imposed the impression of migrants in connection with the state’s loss of control, with the potential output of fear and anxiety on the audience.
The presented association named VIVRE (French: live) is elaborating and exercising different methods of rising journalists’ awareness to the effects of their writings on the public discourse. Their methods include, among other things, contacting journalists for potential changes in the article and increase their awareness throughout thematic training in journalist schools and editorial offices. We would like to use this space to resonate our own thoughts regarding the lecturers’ question, if we see VIVRE as a helpful and/or useful service for social workers.
Firstly, we think this service can greatly affect social workers and can help them to do their job with accordance to the social work code of ethics. There are several reasons that we would like to present in this respect:
Primarily, social workers are a part of the society they live in, hence, they are influenced by the media too, exactly like other members of society. Social processes and social changes in the society contribute to an ongoing public debate, created mainly by the help of the media, who influence the society as a whole. It is very hard to question the information we as future social workers receive by the media. Even when we have the first contact with the people at stake, the influence by the media is so vast, it is hard to grasp its extant on our perspective. In that context, when we think about migration issues and the way the topic is represented in the media, it will be a big challenge for social workers to overcome alone.
Furthermore, the professional tool for social workers to cope with their prejudices is self-reflection. Therefore, another important feature in the associations work is to create a time frame that is dedicated to the professionals to think, reflect, ask questions and critically think about their own work and behavior.
In our opinion, especially this feature, and thereby the association VIVRE in its entirety, can contribute to social workers’ professionalization progress.