Changing the narrative; Refugees becoming 'migrants'

First, not sure if this is the right place for this, I’m not that familiar with GD.

I’ve noticed, in the past few weeks, that the news stories about what used to be referred to as the refugee crises - especially in Europe - is now being referred to as a ‘migrant crises’. I’ve mainly noticed it on the CBC news blurbs but also in the Guardian and the BBC. A quick glance at CNN seems to show the same sort of narrative as well. There’s mention of refugees but migrants is the more used term. And I’ve spoken to a few people who have also noticed the change.

I’m curious; first, what prompted this re-framing and second, how did it come about that news from such a variety of sources all seem to have changed at pretty much the same time?

And finally, what could be the motivation?

My own opinion is that by changing the narrative from ‘refugee’ to the much more benign ‘migrants’ it makes it sound like these people have a choice in where they live and could just as easily go back to where they came from. That makes it easier to refuse them help, no? But that still leaves the question of how did all these disparate sources coordinate the narrative?


All of the people who are currently moving into Europe via Turkey are migrants. That term simply indicates that the people are moving from one place to another with the intent of settling there. It does not say what drives them to do so. Some of these migrants are refugees, some are migrating for other reasons.
People who partake in the political debate these days have a tendency to ignore either one or the other group. An honest debate would require that we accept that both do exist.

If, as you say, news outlets formerly have preferred to refer to all migrants as refugees (I am not sure this is so) that would have been factually inaccurate and the recent trend you have observed would be merely a correction. That this correction has in some way been coordinated I find doubtful.