MEDIVA Fourth European Workshop

TUNING IN TO DIVERSITY

New voices and perspectives in the news

 

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MEDIVA Fourth European workshop

3 - 4 May 2012, Utrecht

 

The MEDIVA 2-day workshop "New Voices and Perspectives in the News" is part of the MEDIVA project. 

During day 1, an international expert group of journalists, researchers and (migrant) NGOs focused (in a closed session) on finding concrete ways to tackle the main challenges in news making, following the conclusions following from the MEDIVA project.

Ed Klute , director of Mira Media, opened the event with a short introduction of the MEDIVA project.

During the first plenary sessions the MEDIVA partners presented the result of their research in the various countries where the project is being implemented. The following issues were in the focus of the attention:

  • The role of migrants and diversity in news content in The Netherlands
  • The role of diversity in news making and programme production in Greece
  • UK news making and news content specifics
  • Ireland news making and news content specifics
  • Poland news making and news content specifics

Utrecht Workshop

The presentations were followed by a short reflection on the MEDIVA project.

The participants of day 1 took part in two workshops offered to them.

During the first workshop ‘The Role of Migrants’ Voices’ the following questions formed the base for the discussion:

  •  What do migrant and/or religious communities do to engage in dialogue or make claims?
  •  What means do migrants use to bring their views to the attention of media?
  •  What happens inside these communities, e.g. on digital platforms, how do youth of migrant background reflect on media portrayal?
  •  Do migrants give feedback to media, do media use such information, and if yes, how?

Bashy Quraishy Secretary General of EMISCO moderated the workshop and briefly introduced how the Media can better reflect diversity.

Ed klute introduced the project Media4us that aims to give migrants a voice by giving them the knowledge to make their own news outlets.

Veysel Filiz, treasurer of EMISCO and Vice-chair of COJEP international presented examples of Islamic voices in the news while also talking about the importance of Muslims watching the news in their host country rather than the news from their country of origin.

Jerry Afriyie of Soul Rebel Movement Foundation (SRM) reflected on how migrants can step up and make racist issues visible in the news. According to Jerry, migrants should not allow themselves to play the role of ‘victim’, instead they should take an active role in changing the perceptions of the native population towards migrants. Thus, for example, the SRM solicits contributions from the public and holds fundraising activities to realise and finance its programmes. The primary aims of SRM are set as:

  • Promoting self-reliance and giving individuals a dignified livelihood.
  • Promoting human rights and the rights of the child and taking a stand against any form of injustice.
  • Encouraging young people to explore their talents and to use their energy in a positiveway.
  • Achieving lasting improvements in the lives of young mothers and street youths.
  • Making self education an alternative learning for school dropouts and discouraging illiteracy amongst young people and adults.
  • Creating understanding and awareness for disfranchised communities.

The second workshop of the day ‘Intercultural Journalism’ dealt with intercultural journalism and how journalists can be supported to produce accurate and balanced reports on migrant issues and to avoid stereotypes and negative framing.

Darien Levani, member of the Association of ethnic journalists in Italy presented the Italian case. He talked about the changes in the past two decades that have transformed most Italian newspapers to publications that have as main aim to promote the political agenda of their owner or just to inform the consumers about the latest commercial products. In a situation like this, diversity is just a minor issue. Since in Italy you must be an Italian citizen to be a journalist we observe the creation of many unofficial ethnic outlets as well as the creation of the Association of Ethnic journalists in Italy. The only issue with having so many news outlets is that each one of them only examines one side of the story and so they end up promoting different realities.  

Janische Opsahl of the Swedish educational radio (UR) explained how the projects MiM (Migrants in the Media) and MEM (Multicultural Europe in the Media) have helped the Swedish PSB to reach the non native Swedish public and better reflect the opinions of migrants. She stipulated how important the dialogue between PSB and members of migrants communities has brought the different sides closer and improved their mutual understanding.

Sjoerd Pennekamp presented how the Dutch PSB monitors the representation of migrants on public Television. Floris Muller and Renee Frissen explained the difficulties journalists face when applying diversity guidelines.

Jessika ter Wal presented News Content.

Neil O'Boyle presented Newsmaking and News Content

Sam Bennet presented Poland newsmaking and news content specifics

Eda Gemi presented The Role of Diversity in Newsmaking and Programme Production.

Programme 3 May

 

Day 2 was an open debate on the influence of social media and internet on the content and on the participation of migrants in the (inter) national news and the role of media as a platform for intercultural dialogue.

James Cridland, radio futurologist, spoke about his part in the London riots, when he mapped the riots and learned about how Twitter works in environment like this. His approach made clear that the mainstream broadcasters like BBC and ITV gave a wrong image of the situation when reporting the developments in the different districts of London.

Frans Jennekens, head of Diversity programs at the Dutch public broadcaster NTR presented the test case of Pauw in Culemborg. In new years’ eve of 2010 the city of Culemborg was hit by riots between the Moroccan and Indonesian communities. Two teams of journalists of NTR, one of Moroccan and one of Indonesian origin went into the neighborhood and interviewed members of both communities. The results of the interviews were presented in a documentary, however the stories of the two communities were totally different. Members of both communities as well as the Mayor of Culemborg were invited in a talk show and tried to resolve their differences through dialogue instead of fighting.

The presentations by James Cridland and Frans Jennekens and his team were plenaries. After this, in a parallel session there was a further debate led by Teun van Dijk. Here also a journalist of migrant background from a local TV station told about her work covering the case of asylum seekers who are sent back after years of procedures, and have to leave behind their school and familiar environment - she was very glad she received the space to cover and broadcast the item on her station. Another migrant reporter of a quality daily newspaper also spoke about his experience in covering issues related to migration and people of migrant background in the larger cities in the Netherlands - he is a general reporter but his editor does tend to send him to the events where migrants are involved, because it is easier for him to get people to talk. He also works in the neighbourhoods for longer periods to familiarise better with the setting and different sources, and to get more balanced information. One needs to be aware, he said that in particular situations, e.g. crime or nuisance coverage, a reporter may tend to listen to official sources or take the perspective of the white majority, but that it is important to also interview people from the environment of the suspects, to understand the context and backgrounds of the situation.

In the debate following a lot of questions were asked on how to achieve diversity in newsmaking, via recruitment practices, other ways of framing the news and selection news for background and debate programmes. Teun van Dijk asked whether by selecting the conflict in Culemborg for their documentary and discussion programme did the NTR not confirm the stereotypes of ethnic minorities as clashing, causing problems, violence and so on. Frans Jennekens replied that NTR produces also many other programmes that are very successful, and use humor or investigations on identity and historical issues. The case of the conflict in Culemborg was taken to show how a conflict can also be covered in a different way and hence oppose precisely those stereotypes that one may find in the headlines about 'race riots' of the popular press covering these events. By letting the protagonists speak. Other participants also discussed the role of public broadcasting in representing diversity, for example Jiska Engelbert of Erasmus University also asked whether not even the positive programming could be confirming stereotypes because of the focus on humor, lifestyle and other 'harmless' topics. Several young professionals working at public broadcasting discussed whether it is OK to be hired as a journalist because one is of migrant origin, or whether only quality criteria should be used. When asked by the discussion leader whether diversity was fairly represented in the newsroom in their outlets, both migrant journalists said this was not the case, they were 1%, and also Jennekens in the end admitted that the Netherlands after all is quite conservative and not sufficiently reflecting diversity in its media. A student referred to her research which found that Turkish community members in the Netherlands who she interviewed did not recognize themselves in the programmes on Dutch PSB. Frans Jennekens concluded convinced that his organisation NTR is quite successful in diversifying its staff and programs and that it is possible to 'see the glass half full' and to continue 'picking the tulips on the garbage belt'.

During both days in plenary and parallel sessions, key speakers presented exemplary cases from different countries around the following questions: 

  • How to give migrants a voice and how to reach diverse audiences;
  • How to produce accurate and balanced reports on migrant issues, and to avoid stereotypes and negative framing;
  • What is the responsibility of the journalist in covering and managing local ethnic conflicts;
  • What is the influence of social media and internet on the content and on the participation of migrants in the (inter) national news;
  • What works and what does not work in specific national and local contexts.

 

Statements for small groups - Criteria for success: four aspects related to intercultural journalism 

Programme 4 May