News media and Twitter: The construction of narratives in the refugee crisis

  • A. Nerghes (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationAcademic


The European refugee crisis received heightened attention at the beginning of
September 2015, when images of the drowned child, Aylan Kurdi, surfaced across
mainstream and social media. While the flows of displaced persons, especially from the Middle East into Europe, had been ongoing until that date, this event and its coverage sparked a media firestorm. Mainstream media content plays a major role in framing the discourse about events such as the refugee crisis, while social media’s participatory affordances allow for the narratives to be perpetuated, challenged, and injected with new perspectives. In this study, the perspectives and frames of the refugee crisis from the mainstream news and Twitter—in the days following Aylan’s death—are compared and contrasted. Themes are extracted through topic modeling (LDA) and reveal how news and Twitter converge and also diverge. Network portrayals of thematic affiliation reveals that news outlets cluster into fewer communities bounded by distinct subsets of themes, often geo-politically defined. In contrast, Twitter users separate into more, focused communities, where categories of users–such as celebrities and news outlets—exhibit aligned perspectives. This study demonstrates how mainstream and social media form a new media space, where
the latter both echoes and augments the narratives of mainstream-media.
Period21 Jun 2019
Degree of RecognitionInternational