The Belgian Media Discourse on Refugees, Migrants and Migration: Localized Coverage of an International Issue

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This chapter analyzes how four Belgian newspapers represented the discourse on refugees, migrants and migration in the span of 2 years between 2015–2017, and how coverage in the Dutch- and French-language media differed. Our main hypothesis was that coverage was not significantly different, but that the Dutch- and French-language newspapers contextualized events in relation to regional politics and debates. We focused on the broadsheet and tabloid newspapers with the largest circulation in each linguistic community: De Standaard and Het Laat- ste Nieuws for the Dutch-language corpus (DLC), Le Soir and La Dernière Heure for the French-language corpus (FLC).
Four sub-hypotheses were developed to explore the main question in-depth: 1) the lexical repertoire of the newspapers in each community is different; 2) Dutch- and French-language newspapers anchored the events in local topo- nyms to contextualize the crisis; 3) each linguistic community referred more to their respective politicians and local political parties than to those of the other linguistic community; 4) the selection and treatment of politicians’ quotes in Dutch- and French-language newspapers reflects the stronger presence of right- wing nationalist political forces in Flanders. The corpus was processed using the lexical software TXM. Although the repertoire of common nouns in each subcor- pus was similar, the differences lay in the use of toponyms and politicians’ names, as well as the political quotes chosen to contextualize the crisis, confirming our leading hypothesis that the coverage was localized. Indeed, news outlets mainly focus on how the international so-called “refugee crisis” affects the local context focusing on regional toponyms, politicians and events. Consequently, Belgium’s institutional division influences the content and tone of the coverage.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Representation of REFUGEES and MIGRANTS in European National Media Discourses from 2015 to 2017
Subtitle of host publicationA Contrastive Approach (Corpus Linguistics)
EditorsAnnamaria Fabian
PublisherJ.B. Metzler
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-662-66775-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-662-66774-3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2023


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