MEDIVA Final European Workshop



Press Club Brussels Europe
Rue Froissart 95, B-1040 Brussels


The MEDIVA final workshop took place at the Press Club, in Brussels, on 15 June 2012, and was co-organised by the Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan, Poland, the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, of the European University Institute in Florence and the European Journalism Centre (EJC), that is based in Brussels.

Maria Laura Franciosi, a journalist and founding member of the EJC and the Press Club welcomed the participants and outlined the training and networking that the EJC does targeting journalists from EU member states and other European countries. She welcomed the initiative taken from the MEDIVA project to discuss the role of the media in migrant integration and to produce a set of indicators for evaluating different media outlets.

Michal Krzyzanowski, head of the Polish research team in MEDIVA, chaired the morning session. After a short introduction of the general aims and output of the project, Anna Triandafyllidou, Scientific Coordinator of the MEDIVA project, introduced the MEDIVA Indicators measuring how the media reflect diversity and contribute to migrant integration. She also presented the methodological approach adopted in the pilot study of 31 media outlets (19 newspapers, 9 television channels, and 3 news web sites) in six European countries (Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the UK) that the MEDIVA research teams conducted in 2011-2012 using the MEDIVA Indicators.

Triandafyllidou presented the main findings of the pilot study concerning news making routines adopted by the media when reporting on migration. Eugenia Markova, senior researcher at the London Metropolitan University research team, outlined the results of the pilot study with regard to recruitment and employment issues, Neil O’Boyle, senior researcher at the Dublin City University partner team, pointed out the findings of MEDIVA concerning diversity training for journalists as well as special training provisions for journalists of immigrant origin while Artur Lipinski, a member of the Adam Mickiewicz University team, summarized the project findings concerning the representations of migrants in the news (news content).

The discussion that followed touched upon several important issues:

Concerning newsmaking practices, James Richards a former BBC journalist suggested that in terms of who decides what is news, the cooperative decision between reporter and chief editor is probably the best solution. Ed Klute, from Miramedia, the Dutch MEDIVA partner, noted that programmes in the migrants’ national languages may be available at early stages of the immigration cycle but as migrants settle they are expected to become fluent in the national language. Others pointed out also that nowadays migrants can access satellite TV and hence are not interested on whether national TV at the country of settlement provides for programmes in their native language.

Concerning issues of recruitment and employment, Milica Pesic of the Media Diversity Institute and Lillia Kolombet from the Council of Europe noted that distinctions made between Third Country Nationals and naturalized citizens are probably misleading as the obstacles experienced by the two groups of people are similar. Sonia Mc Kay, head of the London Metropolitan University research team, also observed that EU citizens fall in substance even if not in law in the sociological category ‘immigrants’ as regards their integration challenges. She also noted that lack of linguistic competence (an argument that was raised by several senior journalists among the MEDIVA pilot study respondents as the main reason why they cannot employ immigrant journalists) is often a good excuse that disguises discrimination. Ed Klute also noted that it would be important to integrate migrants into different jobs within the media – not necessarily all media jobs require perfect written skills for instance.

Regarding the question of training, the increasingly freelancing character of journalism these days and the lack of investment in training were pointed out by several participants.

Turning to the media contents as regards migration related issues, Milica Pesic noted that diversity representation in the news does not increase a newspaper readership or a TV channel audience. Because diversity is a political stance that might attract some and alienate others so at the end the job strikes even.

Stefano Kluzer noted that the use of the indicators requires careful contextualization as a numerical score is easy to communicate but not very eloquent.

Michal Krzyzanowski closed the morning session emphasizing the need to build trust among journalists and immigrants so that journalists are able to consult immigrants and make their voices heard.

Session II started after the coffee break and was chaired by Ed Klute of Miramedia in the Netherlands

Ed introduced the topic of Round Table I, notably What contributions can the media make in promoting migrant integration in European societies?

He outlined the Miramedia Approach on the six cylinders of diversity and asked Katleen Ridder to present her work as officer of the Minorities Forum of the Flanders Region in Belgium. Katleen outlined the importance for minority and immigrant associations to have a public relations strategy. She noted that migrant journalists are still under-represented in the country (the Flemish media sector for instance employs about 6,000 people of which only 0.6% are of ethnic origin. She noted that over racist language was not allowed in most media but also noticed that recent survey data show that ethnic minority populations feel they are misrepresented in the media discourse. Several partners commented on the perceived contradiction between freedom of the press and the need for a stricter regulatory framework.

Brankica Petkovic from the Slovenian NGO The Peace Institute presented briefly the situation of the media and their reporting on migration in Slovenia. She noted that international networking and cooperation with NGOs that have the know how for diversity training is very important for small media outlets.

Stefano Kluzer concluded Roundtable I through a short discussion on his work regarding the use of new technologies and in particular smartphones and internet by migrants.

The debate that followed the presentations of Roundtable I emphasized the need for a public relations strategy for NGOs so as to get their message across and manage to change the tide as regards migrant representation in the news. The question of citizen journalism and the indirect positive impact that the Arab spring can have on mainstream media because all major media outlets are looking for journalists who speak Arabic was commented upon by Ed Klute.

The third and last session of the Workshop started after the lunch break, at 14.30. Maria Laura Franciosi chaired Roundtable II which concentrated on two main questions: How is the media profession changing in the 21st century? What is the impact of these changes for migrants and migration related news?

Aidan White, Director of the Coalition for Ethical Journalism, noted the retreating commitment to editorial values, the increasingly freelancing character of journalism, the lack of employers investing on training. He outlined that the media have an important role to play in providing information that enables citizens to take informed decisions. He noted that the recent developments in new technologies may be opening up the journalistic profession to a wider public.

Ross Biggam, Director General of the Association for Commercial Television, pointed to the fact that media outlets are very different in size and in character and that this might pose a problem when applying the MEDIVA indicators to some of them. He pointed out that commercial TV channels follow a business logic but also that diversity in the media representation of migrants and migration related news can be achieved if one mobilizes the marketing sector’s interest in diversity. He also pointed out the importance of providing materials (on migrants) that the media can publish reasonably quickly as a means to promote the migrant voice in media discourses. 

Milica Pesic, Director of the Media Diversity Institute in the UK questioned whether it is part of the mission of the mass media to ‘promote diversity’. And whether diversity can bring profit to the media. Abdul Latif, an Indian administered Kashmir based journalist, wondered whether ethnic media could forge useful partnerships with the mainstream media to enhance diversity and migrant representation in the latter.

Viorica Nechifor, President of ANSI, outlined the institutional and discrimination problems that migrants face in Italy in particular. Aidan White emphasized the need for a new institutional architecture that would create a better framework for reflecting diversity and promoting migrant integration.

Jessika Ter Wal, main researcher in the Dutch research team of the MEDIVA project, concluded the debate by arguing that public and private TV channels have different interests and concerns and hence need to be approached in different ways so as to become more sensitive to migration related issues.