What a Difference Does Time Make? Framing Media Discourse on Refugees and Migrants in Croatia in Two Periods

  • Dario Cepo Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • Mateja Čehulić Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • Siniša Zrinščak Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Keywords: refugees, migrants, Croatia, media framing, the Balkans route, securitization


There is plenty of research on media framing of marginalized and “othered” groups, including refugees and migrants. A lot has been said about the 2015– 2016 refugee crisis, but much less scholarly interest has been put on the 2018– 2019 re-emergence of refugees and migrants on outer borders of the EU and
the ways member states have responded to the problem. This paper is focused on analysing similarities and differences in framing of refugees and migrants in the Croatian media in two distinct time periods: 2015–2016 and 2018. The paper is based on applying content analysis and descriptive statistics to articles from
four daily newspapers in order to find out how the people coming to Croatia were presented in the media; what they were called, in which sense (positive, neutral, negative) they were presented to the public, and how the media presentation changed over time. The analysis has shown a certain degree of specific political, economic, and societal contexts mediated to, and in turn mediated by, the media’s framing of refugees/migrants. While the predominant frame remained neutral, as per norms of journalistic profession, the change in ideological stance of the government - from social democrats, who put humanitarian elements first, to conservatives, whose focus was security-based - coincided with the relative rise
in the number of articles with a negative portrayal of the migrant issue.