Time to change 'superficial and lazy' reporting, journalists evaluate themselves at Mediane conference
By Nita Wiggins (ESJ-Paris)
(LONDON) About 40 European journalists recently delved into the sticky topic of including more diverse populations and unheard voices in reports. In acknowledging that the changing face of the continent is not fairly represented, the journalism trainers and practicing professionals exchanged strategies to improve. “Think about the absences.
It is our job,” advised Culture Wise Productions executive Mukti Campion. Other parts of the job are doing the legwork and meeting people face-to-face. Journalists must focus on doing stories about people and for people, she told the audience at City University London. Ms. Campion and speaker Szilvia Suri agreed on avoiding the tick-box approach to selecting interviews.
As president of the Roma Press Center, Ms. Suri said her agency has placed nearly 4,000 stories about Roma people in the mainstream media. “We want real stories. Stories about discrimination,” she said. For example, an entire Roma family may survive on only 200 euros a month. When law enforcement authorities profile and then arrest a family member, the fine will likely be 150 euros. Jail time is the unavoidable result because the family is scraping by financially. That is a story worth telling, she said. Riding a bicycle that does not meet all the safety codes could lead to an arrest, she further outlined. The Roma Press Center, based in Budapest, compiles these stories of discrimination. To improve media representation in their country, Italian journalists created a glossary of terms appropriate to use in stories about asylum seekers, refugees, victims of trafficking and migrants.
writers and their editors” triggered the creation of the Carta di Roma, said Giorgio Zanchini, a radio journalist in Rome. “On our desks, (managers) are middle-class whites. We don't have migrants as part of our teams. We don't have other points of view,” he said. “Sometimes you will receive an assignment in which you have to categorize a person,” said University of Milan journalism teacher Stefano Rizzato, echoing the concerns of Mr. Zanchini. Italy's National Council of Journalists (CNOG) and the National Federation of the Italian Press (FNSI) accepted the Carta di Roma in 2008. This glossary serves as a reference for journalists and others who deal with these issues. More information is available at www.cartadiroma.org. The Mediane Media in Europe for Diversity Inclusiveness conference drew a wide range of journalists from Lithuania, Sweden, Malta, Finland, Ireland, and Portugal. Participants traveled from France, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands, as well.
Nita Wiggins, an US TV journalist, is currently head of the English journalism training departement at Ecole superieure de journalisme de Paris.