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Ben Doherty, Guardian correspondent, and Rob McNeil, Deputy Director and Head of Media and Communications, The Migration Observatory will be leading a practical session on bridging the divide between academia and the media and having an impact on the public debate and discourse surrounding immigration and asylum issues.

About the event

Ben and Rob will be leading a practical and informal session on bridging the divide between academia and public engagement and publishing in mainstream media on refugee, asylum and immigration issues. They will provide insight on the way newspapers and media organisations work and what shapes their narratives, pitches that are likely to get attention, how to turn academic work into media outputs, and how to frame arguments when writing for the media. They will also consider how academic work can influence and impact public debate.

Discussion and Q&A will be led by Emilie McDonnell, DPhil in Law candidate at the University of Oxford, whose research focuses on the right to leave in international law and externalised migration control. She is a lawyer from Australia and the Co-founder and former Director of the Tasmanian Refugee Legal Service.

About the speakers

Ben Doherty is a correspondent for The Guardian newspaper and has spent more than a decade reporting across the Asia-Pacific. His previous postings have been in southeast Asia and south Asia. For the past four years he has been immigration correspondent for Guardian Australia, writing on asylum and immigration policies in Australia and across the Asia-Pacific. Three times a winner of Australia’s highest journalism prize, a Walkley Award, he is also the recipient of three United Nations Association Media Peace Prizes. He holds a Master of International Law and International Relations from UNSW and is a visiting fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. He is currently reading for an MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at ODID, and is the author of a novel, Nagaland.

Rob McNeil is the Deputy Director and Head of Media and Communications at the Migration Observatory. He is responsible for public relations strategy, parliamentary and community outreach and the news and commentary work at the Migration Observatory. Rob was part of the team who launched the Migration Observatory in 2011 and, since then, has been working to embed Migration Observatory analysis in public debates. Rob also participates in Oxford University and COMPAS research projects, examining the social environments from which news stories and narratives about migration and migrants emerge; how media debate affects migration policy decisions (and vice versa); and how information gaps affect the way these issues are discussed. He lectures on migration and the media for the MSc in Migration Studies. Rob is a former journalist and joined COMPAS in November 2010 after two years as the Media Director for the US environmental organisation Conservation International. Previously he worked as PR manager for Oxfam GB, Senior Press Officer for WWF-UK and as a journalist for a range of publications including the Evening Standard, The Daily Mirror, The Sunday Mirror, Red, Time Out and BBC Wildlife. Rob has recently co-authored a chapter in Bridging the Gaps: Linking Research to Public Debates and Policy Making on Migration and Integration (OUP 2019).


A sandwich lunch will be provided. All are welcome, no RSVP needed.


The Refugee and Migration Discussion Group also welcomes offers to present papers or other work-in-progress to the group or to lead discussion. Please do contact one of the convenors if you are interested in talking to the group or if you have an idea for an informal discussion.

The group’s co-convenors are Maayan Ravid (, Teresa Büchsel (, Emilie McDonnell ( and Maeve Moynihan ( Our Senior Member is Professor Cathryn Costello.

If you would like to join the group’s mailing list, please send a blank email to:

You can also join our Facebook group at:

Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture

The Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture is held in Trinity term. It is named after Professor Elizabeth Colson, a renowned anthropologist.

Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture

The Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture is named in honour of Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, the founding Director of the Refugee Studies Centre. It is held each year in Michaelmas term.

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