New Guidelines for Migration Maps

ETHICAL MAPPING: Paul C. Adams of the University of Texas has released a new scientific article. (PHOTO: Siri Flatlandsmo/ViSmedia).

ETHICAL MAPPING: Paul C. Adams of the University of Texas has released a new scientific article. (PHOTO: Siri Flatlandsmo/ViSmedia).

In a brand new article published in Journalism Studies, Professor Paul C. Adams provides practical guidelines for producing unbiased maps about immigration. 

When journalists produce maps, they need someone to supply them with data. In the article "Migration Maps with the News," Adams argued that this dependence can lead to a supply of data from institutions dedicated to controlling migration.

This depencence could, in effect, be promoting a logic of surveillance directed at immigrants rather than a logic of hospitality based on respect for human rights, he pointed out. 

Four steps to end bias

Adams investigated unusual maps of migration from the news media and from non-governmental organisations. He concluded with these four guidelines, as recapped by Journalism Research News:

  1. Mapthepathstakenbyparticularrefugees,asylumseekers,and immigrants before, during, and after the period of relocation.

  2. MaptherisksfacedbypeoplewhoaretravelingtoEuropeasrefugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants.

  3. Mapimmigrationinwaysthatinviteaudienceinvolvementand participation.

  4. Mapthenon-geographicspacesthatrefugees,asylumseekersand immigrants must navigate on the way toward becoming full citizens. 

All about being more thoughtful

In his conclusion, Adams asked journalists to be more thoughtful of what their maps actually were portraying:

“Journalism professionals must ask of each migration map what it does: how it intervenes, to what purpose, and in support of what interests.” 

Siri Flatlandsmo