Conference “Improving Roma participation through networking and media outreach”
16-17 November 2009
Romani role in the media – strategies, practices, goals
Valery Novoselsky, Roma Virtual Network
The role of modern mainstream media is essential in bringing to the forefront the Roma issue, in addressing the challenging areas the communities are facing and contributing to the removal of the negative stereotypes about Roma people. Nonetheless, these media organizations are equipped with their own set of rules and criterias that occasionally align with the concerns of ethnic minorities.
Mainstream journalism is considered to reproduce the stereotypes associated with different ethnic minorities. It still fails to allow a broader reflection on issues of social exclusion, structural violence, etc. Roma people are frequently associated with criminality, lack of education and other social problems. There seems to be a racism encoded in news reports which serves to distinguish the majority from the ethnic minorities and secure a sense of community, of “us”, of “our home” from “majority” point of view.
This professional failure in the area of media responsibility demands a greater role of Roma-initiated media to provide a better and clear picture of the everyday reality of Roma communities. This also brings up the issue of reliable journalism; the responsibility of any journalist is to report in a manner that, in the long run, will contribute to social inclusion of minorities and to the elimination of xenophobia.
The Decade of Roma Virtual Network
Since its establishment in July 1999 the Roma Virtual Network was and still is selective on the dissemination of well-sounding articles regarding Roma. Serving not merely as a “distribution platform”, but also as a monitoring and lobbying tool, RVN significantly contributed into the campaigns held by ERTF, ERIO, IRU, ERGO and other international Romani organizations. RVN attracted a big number of it’s subscribers (up to 23 000 these days) to sign the letters of protest, to participate in on-line voting, surveys, and to participate in numerous events in many countries.
Being adopted by International Romani Union (IRU) in July 2000 RVN is operating on a global scale and not centered solely on Europe, but covering the life and history of Roma and Domari communities on all continents. Due to joint efforts and persistent work of RVN`s advisory team and hundreds of volunteer correspondents this media unit today serves as:
source of updated information on Roma issues;
tool for the surveys and researches on topics related to Roma communities;
tool for location of like-minded circles and projects;
lobbying and brain-storming force when the strong action is necessary.
The practice has shown that the results are better when Roma media entities (or media departments of INGOs) work together, or, at least, do not harm one another. And as an editor of RVN I can testify that the joint projects with RomNews Network, Dzeno, Romea and Radio Romano (Sweden) were productive and visible.
In the daily work with 32 electronic listserves on 15 European languages RVN addresses the following topics:
social situation of Roma people in terms of economic conditions and access to education, housing, employment, human rights;
reports and decisions aiming at social equality;
activities of Roma society aiming at the improvement of their condition;
incidents of conflict between Roma and non-Roma people;
Roma in newly independent state of Kosovo;
cultural features presenting the Roma culture and raising awareness about Roma issue;
participation of Roma minorities in the governments;
migration of the Roma people;
The attention is always given to the source of news items, the contact information of the authors frequently shown, the connection with the editorial team of publishing source is provided upon request. The initiative of Roma authors is always welcomed and encouraged by posting of their written materials and photos via RVN`s listserves, often as an exclusive material. The information (usually from OSI, ERIO, ERRC, and CoE) on opportunities for Roma youth and on the vacancies for Roma experts is regularly and repeatedly disseminated. The long-term cooperation with such relatively new Roma media entities as Romani Mundi and KaskoSan.Com allows introducing the audience with fresh and comprehensive information about the life of Roma in different parts of the globe and providing the interaction with them via social networks.
Last, but not the least, in this list is the progressive role of social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, in the communication between Roma activists and in elaboration of new projects.
Looking forward, learning from own experience
In order to achieve significant and positive results Roma media entities should be fast, flexible and responsive in locating up-to-date topics for reader’s attention, in demonstrating the depth of challenges Roma communities are facing, in showing the opportunities for advancement of community members (job vacancies, grants, scholarships, events, etc.), in providing a “green light” for young initiative Roma willing to work for community.
Thus, Roma media will continue to play an important role in shaping the way Roma perceive themselves, own culture, economic situation, discrimination and rights. Roma media will continue to serve as the means of self-assertion for a whole nation, who have been brutally oppressed for centuries. Roma media will continue to foster communication within Roma communities striving for emancipation and inclusion as equal citizens. By supplying mainstream media with quality features related to Roma issues, they can influence mainstream media coverage and non-Roma society in a positive sense. And the same media entities can be a first-hand source for non-Roma due to availability of materials on the languages of majority population.
The Decade of Roma Inclusion is a chance for the progress of this work. None else, but Roma media can perform a better work to reach such goals as: creating communications between state institutions and Roma; offering tools for articulation of priority needs of Roma communities; contributing to improved coverage of Roma issues in the mainstream media.
Media Coverage of Roma Issues. By Nicolina Markidou. July 2008.
Roma Integration Through Media: Roma Radio in East and Southeast Europe.
Rrommedia Network: Roma Media Network
"On behalf of the Federation
of Roma Organizations in Catalonia, I want to thank you for
your participation and contribution in the International Conference “Improving Roma participation through networking and media outreach” within the project “Empowerment through Networking – Fostering Cooperation between Roma Minorities and Civil Society Organizations” and as part of the XVII Annual Conferences on Roma Culture of FAGIC..."
President of the Federation of Roma Organizations of Catalonia
Follow this link to the full text of the Thank-You-Letter by Jose Santos Silva
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