Lately we have been getting many requests from journalists and filmmakers and this has been getting a bit exhausting. We appreciate people being interested about the situation of migrants passing through Serbia, and we are very happy to share our analysis of the “problem”, the information about the structural causes of the situation in Serbia and the way the injustices of the European migration politics influence our bodies, health, mental states and future – and we do so in this blog and we are very happy for people to use information from our blog. However, it needs to be clear that we DO NOT want to act as mediators, translators, fixers or an “entry point” onto the “terrain” for journalists and filmmakers.
Besides, we have a few concerns about journalistic work on this issue, all coming from our rather bad experience with the attitude of journalists. We are very critical of today’s approach to making news and to the lack of proper reflection and analysis on the part of
journalists. We find it that journalists usually just reinforce the status quo, reproduce the discourses that are part of the construction of the “migration problem” and dehumanise, demonise, belittle, victimise migrants, and often use them for a sensionalistic story that sells well.
Our work is long term and we try very hard for it to be filled with dignity and respect, grounding our efforts in an anti-racist struggle. When we go “the terrain”, for example, we focus on the interaction with people, and any “output” or “product” or information we gather is secondary. Through the years we have reflected a lot on what feels right and what does not, and the priority is building a common struggle and combat the walls and borders, which exist also in our heads. This is in the exact opposition with the approach of some of the journalists, whom we have encountered: we have seen journalist coming to “the terrain”, to get as much info and as many good stories as possible, and this end often justifies a lot of the means used in the process. Often, the “migrants” are seen as an object to be photographed or filmed, a topic of a story that sells, a victim with a heart-breaking past, someone that is “them” and not “us”.
We do not stand for this approach and do not want to enable it. We aim to establish trust, human connection and respect — for its own sake, not for an access to info. This is why we refuse requests to help journalists or filmmakers to get in contact with migrants in Serbia.
A NOTE ABOUT TAKING PICTURES:
The media is swamped with photographs, showing individuals and groups of migrants, which reveal both the identity of the migrants, as well as reproduce the victimisation. We find this problematic and for this reason we never publish photographs revealing people’s identity on this blog (unless explicitly required by the person, or if the photography is taken from another public source, where identity was not covered).
While the chance that there will be negative consequences for any of the people photographed are comparatively small – the fact that there might be negative consequences is enough to dissuade us from publishing photographies releaving people’s identity. Indeed, the consequences might be devastating.
Firstly, for those people who have fled persecution in their home country, or are sought by the authorities, or other groups, their picture appearing on the internet could be very dangerous.
Secondly, even the “persecution” of the European migration system could mean that someone having their photo taken in Serbia could face negative consequences (for example, if Serbia became a safe third country again, this would mean asylum seekers from its neighbouring countries could get deported back, if there is proof they have entered there from Serbia).
Thirdly, most people have, on their way, been through a lot of hardship and dangers and have lost the perception of “risk”. The whole existance, every step, is rendered risky by the migration politics. And so the “risk” of having a photograph taken can appear really small, in comparison to the thousand immediately threatening risks that exist for illegalised people. Thus it is the responsibility of those taking the picture to think about the possible negative consequences — however small — that might exist in publishing a picture.
We believe it is not appropriate to share a picture taken in an atmosphere of trust and friendship and published it on the internet!