Daily Mail’s 5 step guide to demonising migrants

Today's story provides a handy guide to the dark arts of the press


It is a truth universally acknowledged that migrants get a rough ride in the British press. But how do they do it?

Today’s Daily Mail provides a crash course in the dark arts of demonising migrants. Here are some of the basics:

1. Do not refer to migrants as people.

It is of the first importance that these people not be seen as human. Instead, use words like ‘figures’, ‘numbers’, ‘influx’ – or indeed, ‘migrant’, which simply means a person who moves from one place to another.

2. Use numbers instead of words where possible. 

Words can be slippery. To avoid breaking step 1, use numbers like 18,000, as in today’s story. This helps creates the idea of migration as a pest control problem, or a force of nature, rather than a man-made crisis that involves human lives.

3. Use the language of crime. 

Discuss migrants as you would criminals. Some examples from today’s story are ‘sneak’, ‘evade’, ‘targeting’ and ‘caught’. These are bad people doing a bad thing. They deserve to be punished. (Add a scary picture of dark-skinned people if you can.)

4. Do not quote people who care about migrants.

Pick your sources with care. Organisations which worry about the safety of migrants should not be quoted if possible (as they are not in today’s story). This might cause readers to see another side of the story, learn about its context and the causes of migration, hear ideas for solutions, and even empathise with the migrants themselves. Instead, seek quotes from police, tough-guy politicians, truck drivers, British tourists, and so on.

5. Do not speak to migrants. 

This may be the most important step. Under no circumstances should you interview the people trying to reach Britain. Asking about their experiences and motivations, or just about their family or their favourite food, could risk readers seeing them as human, and should be avoided at all costs. This includes the cost of good stories or honest journalism.

There are other steps, and not all of these are kept all the time. Reports of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean has broken through the usual filters as a regrettable anomaly. Generally though, some adherence to the above will ensure you write about migrants correctly.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

Read more: 

Daily Mail says Syrian refugees turn Greek holiday town into ‘disgusting hellhole’

Daily Express blames Greek economic crisis on EU and immigration

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39 Responses to “Daily Mail’s 5 step guide to demonising migrants”

  1. stevep

    These are the tactics of dehumanisation, used by military, political and religious despots throughout history. The Nazi`s in 1930`s Germany and Italy`s Fascists were particularly good at it.
    Lord Rothermere, who owned The Daily Mail in that period, was friends with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and the editorial stance of the paper was sympathetic towards Fascism in the early 1930`s.
    The Daily Mail has sought to distance itself from that stance in the intervening years but it`s consistent reporting on and support of, what we on the left might consider to be far-right ideological notions and ideals, dressed up as good old British common sense, have left more cautious thinking people appalled and wondering if, as well as a right-wing economic push back to the 1930`s, there is an ideological one happening too.

  2. stevep

    These are the tactics of dehumanisation, used by military, political and religious despots throughout history. The Nazi`s in 1930`s Germany and Italy`s Fascists were particularly good at it.
    Lord Rothermere, who owned The Daily Mail in that period, was friends with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and the editorial stance of the paper was sympathetic towards Fascism in the early 1930`s.
    The Daily Mail has sought to distance itself from that stance in the intervening years but it`s consistent reporting on and support of, what we on the left might consider to be far-right ideological notions and ideals, dressed up as good old British common sense, have left more cautious thinking people appalled and wondering if, as well as a right-wing economic push back to the 1930`s, there is an ideological one happening too.

  3. Torybushhug

    The public are sick of enduring the platitudes and abstract defence narratives employed by the metropolitan liberal sect that relentlessly seek to deny the very real toxic effects of mass immigration experienced by millions.
    The left has rendered itself wholly out of touch and figures of fun for their being so utterly disconnected.
    But one of hundreds of examples; Self employed trades in their millions have come here and undermined the incomes of self employed British trades people. Everyone except the naïve liberal left has real world experience of this (their Brother, Mate, Father etc) and seen how it has devastated local incomes of once proud people earning a decent crust. The sixth form style left brushes this aside as some DM ranting without understanding millions are actually experiencing this and it is devastating for their self esteem, not to mention the knock on effects on their marriage and children (sorry no holiday this year unlike those nice middle class Liberals whos incomes are immune to being bided down by an army of happy migrants).
    Remember these are self employed people that cannot demand a higher wage, customers only pay the going rate.
    Again this is but 1 example of the toxic effects of mass immigration.

  4. GhostofJimMorisson

    The Nazi`s in 1930`s Germany and Italy`s Fascists were particularly good at it.

    Well you’ve lost the argument already.

  5. Saleem Shady

    The Left cares more for immigrants than it does for British people. That is one reason why it will continue to lose, and why all it will ever do is write internet articles in impotent fury

  6. GhostofJimMorisson

    This helps creates the idea of migration as a pest control problem, or a force of nature, rather than a man-made crisis that involves human lives.

    Man made crisis? You’re assuming all migrants are poor, desperate refugees fleeing persecution. The vast majority are merely people seeking the chance of a better life and higher wages. You’ve made the schoolboy error of confusing economic migrants with refugees. We have no obligation to help the former, unless they have skills we desperately need, and every obligation to help the latter. And as for the language of crime, entering a country without permission or documentation is a crime, pure and simple. And when it comes to numbers, the left is just as guilty, chucking economic figures and statistics to defend mass immigration.

  7. GhostofJimMorisson

    As far as I can make out, many immigrants are low skilled and in low waged jobs, and their wages are topped up with benefits. We are, then, subsidising people to come and work here, when we have over a million unemployed. Bonkers!

  8. GhostofJimMorisson

    (Add a scary picture of dark-skinned people if you can.)

    Translation: If you have ANY concern about mass, uncontrolled immigration, you’re a massive racist. Pathetic, ignorant, self-righteous bien-pensant guff! This is why the Left was so routinely drubbed at the last election.

  9. Torybushhug

    The left always self portray as ‘thinking people’, how infantile and inaccurate. Many of us had Owen Jones style naïve thinking patterns in our teens but then we think a bit deeper and beyond the distorted populism the liberal left feels so comfortable with.
    Being of the left is the easy more rewarding state of being. You get to underline your supposed compassion and virtue, you simply tell people what they want to hear (‘I believe in decent pensions for all’, ‘I believe every child must have an equal chance’).
    Lefties are charlatans. I know plenty that virtue signal and underline their semi Saintly status, yet their actions are the same as mine. For example they detest capitalism and profiteering and yet they eagerly keep an eye on their ISA / pension all derived by way of corporate profits off the backs of workers. They bemoan low incomes whilst choosing the Polish gardener because he is happy to work for a lower sum (my Brother is a capable gardener but many liberal lefty types instead choose cheap immigrant gardeners).
    As I say, charlatans the lot of them, including Tony Ben who distributed the bulk of his mass wealth only to his own children or Coogan that relentlessly virtue signals whilst CHOOSING to hoard gigantic wealth.

  10. stevep

    Yes, of course we on the left are hypocrites and charlatans like you describe. We represent the vast majority of people who haven`t got inherited wealth, land or other means of sustaining ourselves, so we have to hire ourselves out to those who have, to “earn” a living. We represent the hope that one day, everyone will be able to sustain themselves and enjoy life as a given right without having to offer the begging bowl to the wealthy power elite.
    Yes, we do employ abstract language like decency, fairness, equality etc. because they sound nicer than terms like GDP, corporate assets, arbitraging etc.
    Yes, there are those among us who are wealthy themselves and could choose to accept that and even flaunt it, instead they choose to align themselves with us and use their wealth to support us and our politics.
    As I said at the start, we are hypocrites. We are people with Socialism in our hearts having to use our brains to scrape a living from Capitalism. We have a vision of how things should be, not a shoddy acceptance of things as they are and that is a million miles better position to be in than far-right commentators seeking to glorify greed, promote division, encourage racism and generally indulge in all the tired old “leftie” bashing that was old hat 30 years ago.
    So let`s celebrate our “hypocrisy” and laugh at those who despise us and would wish us harm. We will have the last laugh.

  11. Cole

    What a load of boring cliched tripe. Why bother?

  12. Joe Bloggs

    The DM points out regularly that many migrants are pick-pockets, and other criminals, and tell us of just how many of them are filling our jails.
    Ignoring the facts about foreign criminals who shouldn’t be here in the first place, wouldn’t be right, despite lefties continually suggesting otherwise.

  13. macjackb

    The article missed out two further important stratagems:
    6: Refuse to read or engage with anything that might alter your right ming mindset. This furthers the fantasy that the people in question are not human, and that you’re somehow the ‘adult’ that must reluctantly share the same air as the childish lefties with their tedious compassion and empathy.
    7: Play the man, not the ball, when it comes to dealing with lefties. Lacking in humanity is a significant anthropological advantage that righties possess, allowing them to personally abuse their opponents when all else fails. The one about lefties being frauds because they don’t personally live in a shoebox in the middle of the road is always an intellectual killer.

  14. Cole

    And all proper Englishmen are law abiding citizens unlike Johnny Foreigner, especially the dark skinned ones.

  15. stevep

    If you know of these scams and ruses and you know the perpetrators then it is your duty to report them to the relevant authorities. Have you?

  16. Torybushhug

    play the man not the ball, arf! Daily, everyone from Zoe Williams to Owen Jones casts Tories as baby eating nazis that love nothing better than kicking the poor and the disabled. Classic lefty filtering.

    I notice you employed the usual lefty tactic of twisting what I said into a binary choice, wealth hoarding or living in a shoebox’ yawn. The point we make is very wealthy hoarders such as Ben, Coogan and all the others could give away a very meaningful chunk of wealth, downsize to a modest home and still have a couple of million in the Bank. None of them do, Brand, Fry, Totsbig all greedy charlatans thAt virtue signal not by deed but by word. Pathetic.

  17. Torybushhug

    You claim to represent hope, but what is hope without personal leadership by example?
    Why do very wealthy Cambridge lefty academics not give thier massive wealth away? Not all of it, but say 70%. Hope is no use to those that would like to share that wealth, much of it from pension wealth by way of nasty share dividends made off the backs of workers.

    Why don’t you all shop around not on a best value basis, but on the basis of how well people are paid? Why do you people seek out lower charging builders and gardeners? Why not appoint them on the basis of how well thier family lives in relation to what you pay them?

    Why do you seek out lowest insurance or air fares, do these firms pay the workers well?

    All your hope and wordy Saintly broth amounts to nothing more than a charade to make you feel better about yourself and fool others into painting you semi Saintly.

    When you all take meaningful action I will join you. Protesting and shouting is cheap and risk free. Ending your ISA and pension so as not to profit from workers is hard. Paying your gardener a decent wage so she might enjoy the same holidays as you, now that means something, nut like Ben and all the other snake oilers lefties entrench wealth in thier family not in outsiders.

  18. Interalia

    What are British people? People who arrived here form Uganda in the 1970s because Idy Armin ethnically cleansed them? People who arrived from the West Indies in the 50s and 60s because Britain asked them to come because we were short of labour. Do you mean the French, the Angles, Saxons, Romans etc etc? The left cares about everybody and doesn’t give a stuff about stupid labels. We’re all human, all one of a kind and worthy of love and respect.

  19. Interalia

    A sweeping generalisation as such people often give generously to charity. The notion that they should give all their wealth away and chant in the street homeless dressed in a loin cloth is a typical right wing trick. Clearly people have to live as best they can in a capitalist system while their lives are ruled by such outmoded concepts as tax and the profit motive. The question in the meantime is of degree – how much income should be distributed to avoid beggars dying in the street. Clearly you moral system allows the poor nothing. I will enjoy watching you squeeze yourself through the eye of a needle.

  20. Alan Whitfield

    I think you’ll find they just care about human beings, they are tolerant of people and respectful of human life regardless of the nation they were born into.

  21. Alan Whitfield

    Maybe they were in England but certainly not in Scotland. Not everyone in the UK thinks like the the men polishing their chins on the curtains of Number 10.

    Some of us belive in equality over equity.

    And no one has said a lack of compassion towards the plight of human beings seeking asylum from government orchestrated persecution was being racist.

    I’d suggest it smacks of intolerance or a lack of education on the subject.

    So, angry and stupid but not always racist.

  22. Mrs Trellis

    ”I own a small specialist finance consultancy helping people arrange difficult finance.”

    – ah, so you are a loan shark

    ”I am also involved in lettings”

    – and a slum landlord.

    Truly, the Mail is strong in this one…..

  23. stevep

    You seem to be keen, fairly knowledgeable and certainly have a lot to say, why don`t you show your mettle and lead us by example to help build New Jerusalem in England`s green and pleasant land, or will it end up being a stinking snake pit.

  24. damon

    Ask the British public if they want thousands of the Calais migrants and what do you think the result of a survey would be? These people:

    ”Hundreds of Sudanese and Eritrean migrants clashed overnight at a migrant camp in Calais, in the north of France. Reports say 21 people were wounded, of whom 14 were taken to hospital in Calais”.

  25. damon

    Your contribution is too. Can you give us figures on how many we should take …… and from where? Do we take plane loads of ”unsorted” (unprocessed) migrants straight off the boats?
    Or should we select the ones we deem might have a good asylum case and leave Italy with the rest? Which would be unfair of course.
    So let’s say we take the unprocessed migrants with no passports or any documentation at all.
    We then need to house them on arrival in the UK. Where do you suggest? In refuge camps or hostels? Who is going to feed them? Are they to be given some money so they can meet minimul living costs? What do you do when you think people are lying about where they come from?
    Everyone is claiming to be from Eritrea. What do you do when you find Ghanans and Nigerians amongst them? The Nigerians all claim they are in danger from Boko Harem.

  26. gunnerbear

    Of course the left is naïve – they think all the worlds flotsam and jetsam that rocks up on our shores are all terrifically nice people who would never dream of abusing benefits and the system.

  27. gunnerbear

    That’s because the Scots aren’t swamped with immigrants. If say Edinburgh was a flooded with immigrants as Boston or Peterborough the Scots would soon be whining….as it is they already get far more than their fair share…..rUK paying for the Scots as usual.

  28. Cole

    Not the point. Bloggs and his friends were just repeating the crap that all these dodgy foreigners are criminals – unlike fine upstanding Englishmen. Of course the Mail has been peddling this line (eg about Jews) for about 100 years, as well as backing Nazis, Blackshirts etc.

  29. Paul 保羅 باول Billanie

    It is extremely disgusting they do this.

    However having said that a proper, balanced assessment of the impact of the issue is needed. Ignoring it or just branding anyone who raises the issue racist will just make the situation worse in the long run. Of course an increase in population driven by migration will impact services. Schools, doctors housing jobs etc. Saying they don’t is simple minded and ignorant.

    On the jobs side a points based system is actually sensible. Those with skills we need welcomed with open arms but those with little or no skills we have to be honest we should be able to say sorry but no. We do not need potentially unlimited numbers of such workers to come here when we already have a large number of this type of native born job seekers.

    On housing we do need sensible and fair rules as well and is it asking so much of those from EU nations at least for the first 5 years (example figure) to make sure they arrange privately rented accommodation so they do not put pressure on an already pressured (and with increased right to buy soon to be more pressured) social housing sector?

    But then to start you do need to differentiate the different types. Those here legally as EU member citizens from those from outside the EU some of whom do take extraordinary measures to get here by illicit means. It is high time it was debated properly and sensibly before it is too late.

  30. damon

    It’s Leon (Wolfeson) isn’t it? How you been?
    A lot of them guys in Calais are ”dodgy” by the way.
    They’ve been through so much, many of them must be suffering PTSD.
    Where are they to be put up, or do we just leave them to their own devices once they get to England?

  31. Cole

    I am not Leon Wolfson. Are you in the pub or something?

  32. damon

    Oh sorry, you just sounded a bit like him.
    Where’s he gone then? – it’s not the same without him.

  33. Cole

    Who said 1% of Africa was on its way to the EU? However, I do think we should help refugees from murderous regimes, like Sudan and Eritrea – as we have done for centuries (though we didn’t let many Jews in during the 1930s thanks the the likes of the Daily Mail). I think Mr Farage’s family are here because they were Protestants persecuted by the then French government.

  34. damon

    If we don’t want to be accused of having built ”Fortress Europe” we have to be much more generous in allowing people from Africa to move to the West.
    This chap Kenan Malik wrote this blog post on the subject recently.

    Also, the logic of saving people from going to sea in unseaworthy boats is to not have them trying to come illegally in the first place, but allowing them legal ways where they can come in regular migrations. And that doesn’t just mean people from war ravaged countries.
    Because most countries in Africa have big numbers of people leaving.
    So to stop them doing it illegally we need to alow them visas.
    How many would come if it was open to them?
    How many Irish left Ireland over a hundred Yeats ago?
    It was twenty or thirty percent of the population.
    One percent of Africa doesn’t sound like too high a number.

  35. mike_in_brum

    The reality is that migrants are vermin and have ruined Britain.

  36. David Davies

    The Heil are only bothered about IMMIGRANTS. They do not give a flying frolic about emigrants on the Costa Del Crime.

  37. Harold

    My Grandmother was a Liberal and a devout Methodist, she normally voted Tory, but she taught me compassion, caring and helping others. She told me about the ills of the 1930’s and how poor the Governments of the fifty were. To her no matter where you lived you were her equal. Consequently I grew up from a young age having views to the left, supported Trade Unions as they gave working people a voice and along with the belief working was good have always supported what I hope are good causes.

    Equally I have met many, many right wing simple solution experts, the man in the pub or the barrack room lawyer, who have a nice simple one sentence answer to all issues. The latest example I heard this week, was the idea the army should be sent into France and open fire on the immigrants including the children. I have always bemoaned low incomes for the simple reason they are wrong, but at the times in my life when I have earned good money should I have suddenly thought I had become a Tory?

  38. Harold

    I do not buy on price only fools do that, quality must be the first, second and third choice. I strongly agree purchasing should be directed to firms who treat their staff well. There should be a list of employers, perhaps the one the Tory press kindly gave us at the election would be a good start, who consumers should avoid.

  39. Harold

    Self employed people can demand a higher wage, they increase the quality and put the price up. Equally if I was to work for a low paying employer, what is wrong in organising and then asking for better terms in the Contract of Employment?

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