18.12.2012 09:39 Age: 4 yrs

Mass Media in Europe

The main idea of the event was that Media and its impact are very versatile – it can be used to spread prejudice, discrimination but also to send out a positive message and support the development of Human Rights. Giving direction to this powerful tool is our responsibility.


On December 4th a group of 12 OCEANS members gathered for an interactive workshop involving two study visits to international NGOs located in Brussels which deal with various society and Humans Rights issues daily to discuss the impact Mass Media has on the society in general, and young people in particular.



ENAR (European Network Against Racim)
hosted the event and acted as the main platform for discussions. The workshop started with Martine Deré from the European Commission’s DG Education & Culture giving the welcoming speech and explaining about the dynamics of the OCEANS and EMA alumni and opportunities awaiting students willing to seek international experience. Subsequently, Georgina Siklossy‘s (ENAR Press Officer) gave an overview of European Media from the perspective of Human Rights and presented some of the best/worst practises in the field.



One of the main insights shared was that there is a general feeling of insecurity within the society, which showcases itself through an increasingly negative public perception of minorities in Europe. This state of mind is partly influenced by globalisation in general and the way these groups are represented in the news - which is often negative and biased. Besides its influence on the general public, the Media has also a strong effect on politicians and on how/what policies are developed. Nevertheless, it is important to note that it is a two-sided effect in a sense that general society's opinion and dominant political discourse can have a strong impact on Media as well.



The main insights on Media as a Threat:

 

  • Stereotyping (sensationalising reports in order to make more profit) and inaccurate representation (e.g. 60% of reporting linked to migrants in Europe is negative);


  • Reluctance to give a voice to minorities - usually one-sided view is given preference, dismissing the input of minority groups;


  • Lack of representation of minority groups in the news (it should reflect the diversity of the population and contribute to the creation of a positive image);


  • Challenges linked to the industry of Media (financial difficulties lead to understaffed organisations, whose reporters don't have enough time to carry out proper investigations. Thus, sometimes discriminating reports are submitted unconsciously).

 

After a short Q&A session on the topic, Juliana Wahlgren (ENAR Networking Officer) presented the European Network Against Racism’s main fields of expertise and best practises of Media related project implementation. The workshop then proceeded with a round table discussion where OCEANS members exchanged reflections on their specific countries.

Next, the group relocated to PICUM (Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants) where they were invited for a short screening of Undocumentary as to provide an example of positive practise on how Media can be used as a Guide. The screening was followed by a discussion on the main issues faced by undocumented migrants in Europe and their representation in the European news.



Key insights on Media as a Guide


After the working group returned back to ENAR, students were divided into groups of 3 and had a task to think of possible recommendations for European policy or grassroots initiatives (coming from civil society), which could contribute to the use of Media as a Guide in approaching Multiculturalism and Diversity. In order to help to get the voice of the youth heard, ENAR suggested sharing this list of recommendations with their pan-European member organisations working in a relevant field. But first, our working groups are sharing it with You:

The list of recommendations:

  • To focus more on intercultural competence development of students of journalism as they are the driving force of the Media of the future (e.g. to provide additional trainings on multiculturalism and diversity at the universities; to create an article competition Young Journalist Against Discrimination);


  • To encourage exchange programmes to raise intercultural awareness and understanding, while not underestimating the importance of the follow-up process of the exchange programmes. A platform should be set up allowing students to reflect on their intercultural experience in order to avoid a reverse effect in which the exchange programme only reinforces stereotypes;


  • To increase the representation of minorities in the news (paying more attention to their culture and achievements, not only the issues to avoid creation of exceptionally negative portrait);


  • Policies should be developed to monitor the individual control over media channels (media should be as independent as possible, not allowing one individual to own more than e.g. 20% of the shares);


  • To put pressure on the separating of Media and Politics (limiting the allowed level of involvement or financial support coming from political parties or individual politicians);


  • Government should encourage (e.g. by allocating financial support) social & leisure media such as TV series, documentaries, etc. which raise cultural awareness about different minorities;


  • Educational projects targeting children in primary schools should be provided with extra support, as it is during this time that worldview and stereotypical perceptions can get rooted.

 



After the exchange of the last thoughts and remarks, participants came to a conclusion that originally Media as a tool is neither good nor bad – it‘s just powerful – and it is in the hands of civil society to decide to which side the scale turns. Therefore, the stimulation of critical thinking and cultural awareness are the key aspects to be considered in order to contribute to the growth of a discrimination-free Europe. So we take it from there.


Finally, a warm thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the workshop and helped to make this event happen – if there‘s one thing we‘ve learnt it is that any new initiative requires – no more, no less – support of the People.

by Neringa Tumenaite

 

This workshop was held in the framework of "Organise your own event"