FAQ for journalists, photographers and researchers

This page is aimed predominately at independent journalists, photographers or researchers. On the whole we do not engage with journalists representing or working within mainstream and corporate media, exceptions are made rarely.

Many of us disagree with the agenda or opinion of these media outlets, and are frustrated with the impact this can have on the situation in Calais, and elsewhere. The behaviour of most journalists in Calais is completely disgusting, photography and reporting without consent is very real issue. There is no respect for people’s safety, anonymity or privacy. Jungles or squats are seen as a safari park to witness and capture trauma, tragedy or fighting. Which is then used to confirm the two narratives of either the ‘desperate masses’ trying to invade the UK, or the poor helpless victims who need the white man to come and save them.

We are especially never ever interested in talking to reporters from the Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Express, or Murdoch owned press

Another reason why we rarely talk to the press is that we prefer to express ourselves in our own words, rather than to be ‘mediated’ and edited by journalists. One purpose for this blog is to be a platform for those of us fighting the border, with or without papers, to put across our experiences, ideas and reflections directly. Please feel free to quote anything you like from this site, and to link to the original article. Please feel free to use images for non-commercial purposes; if you wish to re-use them in commercial media, contact us first

Do you not think that documenting the situation in Calais is important?

We encourage photography, video, sound recording, and all other documentation of repression by police and state officials, and of non-state fascists. And we believe that positive reporting of our work, and of the general situation in Calais, can be an important part of the struggle.

However, over the years we have repeatedly encountered a number of problems arising from the irresponsible use of photography and other media tools. For example, taking photographs of migrants’ faces in particular can create real risks for people. The use of cameras can alienate and dis-empower people, and create mistrust. There are other concerns about using our trust and relationship with people to further personal projects.

For these reasons, we have agreed a number of points:

  • No Borders does not, in general, endorse or get involved in photo projects, except for our work of documenting repression. We will not act as an introduction service for photographers looking for migrants. People doing photojournalism, or other photography or video or sound projects, must make clear that they are not doing this as part of No Borders. The No Borders office and other infrastructure is not available for use by such projects.

  • We do have the ability to make exceptions, only where these have been agreed collectively, and in advance, by the group in Calais. If someone contacts us with a specific project idea, we may invite them to present this to the collective, either in person at a meeting or in writing. However, in practice, it often not a priority of the group to spend time on making these exceptions.

  • There are members of the network with concerns over the general cross over between research (including university study) and being in Calais as part of No Borders. If you are coming to Calais with us and are planning to undertake research, you need to get in touch in advance to speak about this. It is likely to be an issue if your research involves the need to interview or in some way use your experience with people in Calais; because there are obvious issues around misusing trust. Also if you plan to include ways that people can subvert the border, because this information can be misused by the state.

    Please do not assume that because you have been in Calais before, that you don’t need to mention your research.

  • In all cases, we demand that everyone use photography and other media tools responsibly and sensitively. This includes making sure that no sensitive information is disclosed, and that any migrants and/or comrades who are identifiable in images or recordings have actively given their consent to this. If there is any doubt about full consent, all faces and other identifying features must be blurred beyond recognition.

Can Calais Migrant Solidarity provide me with information on the situation in Calais?

As a group which has been staying and working with migrants in Calais consistently since summer 2009, we have gained a considerable insight into the situation of migrants in the area, and the police harassment. So, within reason, we may be willing to share this information. Sometimes, we might point you in a direction of other people that might be more appropriate for the nature of your project.

Send us an email  in advance of you coming, please don’t get in touch an hour before you arrival expecting us to drop everything and help you.

Can Calais Migrant Solidarity introduce me to migrants in Calais?

No. Whilst we appreciate that you may be very sympathetic to the situation, we have a policy of not ‘introducing’ either journalists or researchers, independent or not, to migrants in Calais. The reason for this is that we have spent a long time battling various barriers to trust in order to work as closely as we can with people.

With a continuously changing population in Calais, frequent linguistic hurdles, and plainclothes police operating in the area as well as other places along  migrants’ routes, in the past some migrants were suspicious of us and our agenda. We have worked hard to overcome this, and plenty of people have gone out on a limb to trust us. We are not willing to jeopardise that by bringing journalists or other researchers into peoples’ communities (even though we would never do it without their consent).

Will people in the jungles or the squats be willing to talk to me?

We get asked this question a lot. For what we think are obvious reasons, we cannot answer. Ask people yourself.

Can you put me up if I come to Calais for my project/report?

Unfortunately not. Sleeping space is limited and even though we often stay in migrant communities, it is often needed for activists recovering from very tiring work!

Who else might be able to help me with my work?

You could talk to migrants yourself. There are also Associations and individuals in Calais who may be able or willing to help you with other information you might need.

If none of your questions have been answered here, then please get in touch at calaisolidarity [at] gmail.com

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