The Construction of Roles and Responsibility in ‘Europe's’ Migrant Crisis: A Study on News Agency Report

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The paper examines the roles construed to migrants and to European states in Reuters and AP news agency reports autumn 2015 and spring 2016. In 2015, more than a million migrants came to Europe. Most of them crossed the sea corridor between Turkey and Greece, which resulted in a chaos along the so called ‘Balkan route’ towards richer European countries. By March and April 2016, several European countries had either closed their borders or tightened the border controls, moving the problems elsewhere. Metaphors have a vital role in the analysis. States have been metaphorically personalised, and can thus be evaluated by Appraisal values. At the same time, migrants are often seen as a natural disaster, e.g., as a ‘chaotic flood’. These kinds of ‘liquid metaphors’ transform the migrants’ ordeal into an inanimate phenomenon and blur the responsibility of human actors. In the issues of responsibility, I draw mainly on two concepts from Functional grammar: ergativity and nominalisation. The study also gives clear evidence of the ‘news value’ related to ‘geographical closeness’. When the ‘Balkan route’ was more or less shut, the focus of the news media was no longer on Central Europe. Though the crisis was as bad as before, a lot of it was ‘out of sight’, as Reuters states in August 2016.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical approaches to discourse analysis across disciplines
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)154-166
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages
  • 518 Media and communications

Cite this