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The Migrant Crisis, Through The Lens Of Social Media

The front pages of some of Britain's daily newspapers showing an image of the body of Syrian three-year-old boy Aylan are pictured in London, on September 3, 2015. The image spread like lightning through social media and dominated front pages from Spain to Sweden, with commentators unanimous it had rammed home the horrors faced by those fleeing war and conflict in the Middle East and Africa. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)
The front pages of some of Britain's daily newspapers showing an image of the body of Syrian three-year-old boy Aylan are pictured in London, on September 3, 2015. The image spread like lightning through social media and dominated front pages from Spain to Sweden, with commentators unanimous it had rammed home the horrors faced by those fleeing war and conflict in the Middle East and Africa. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

Note: The photo in this story may be distressing to some viewers.

Social media, and one photo in particular, have played a central role in galvanizing public attention around Europe’s migrant crisis.

The head of the United Nations’ refugee agency has called the crisis a “defining moment” for the EU and said member countries must mobilize and accept up to 200,000 refugees. Ireland has agreed to take 1,800 refugees, and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to accept thousands more.

But Cameron may be responding to pressure outside the UN, after being the target of an article in The Independent. The newspaper was the first to print the Reuters photos of a Syrian toddler who washed up dead on the beach in Turkey after he, his brother and mother drowned trying to reach Greece. (See the article here, but note that the images may be distressing to some viewers.)

The paper said it made the decision to print the pictures because leaders like Cameron were demonizing the migrants. They wanted to humanize them. Here & Now’s Robin Young discusses the story with Femi Oke, host of “The Stream” on Al Jazeera English.

Guest

  • Femi Oke, host of “The Stream” on Al Jazeera English. She tweets @FemiOke.

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