Journalists come together to fight prejudice worldwide

by editor | 1st December 2010 8:10 am

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European and Turkish journalists gathered at ?stanbul’s Bahçe?ehir University for a three-day international media program.

Eighty journalists from throughout Europe convened in ?stanbul on Tuesday for a three-day international program to raise awareness among media professionals of discrimination that is commonplace in the world.
The program titled “European Media Encounter Media, Intercultural Dialogue and Fight against Discrimination — Cross-reports from Turkey,” is being held as a joint effort by the Council of Europe’s “Speak out against discrimination” campaign and the Intercultural Cities program under the Turkish chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The program will run through Dec. 2.
Among the 80 participants include journalists from the Zaman Media Group, the AGOS weekly, the Habertürk daily and TV channel and the Vatan, Taraf, Radikal and Hürriyet newspapers, representatives from the BBC, Euronews, El Mundo, La Republica and Liberation, as well as 20 journalism students.
The Council of Europe has put forth three main objectives for the program: to train media professionals on how to treat news relating to discrimination and intercultural dialogue; to help people from minority backgrounds make their voices heard by facilitating their access to media professions and productions; and to inform public opinion about policies that combat discrimination.
“Because discrimination remains a common practice whose victims are ill-informed about their rights and the remedies available, the campaign seeks to develop close partnerships with the media in order to inform public opinion about national and European anti-discrimination machinery,” read a booklet distributed to all participants.
Reynald Blion, media and diversity manager and representative of the “Speak out against discrimination” campaign, in his opening speech told participants they would be expected to contribute to the visibility of the program, build permanent dialogue between all media networks in Europe and seek innovative ways to produce reports on diversity and anti-discrimination issues.
Journalist Nicole Pope, who is also a columnist for Today’s Zaman, focused on acts of anti-discrimination worldwide, saying that no country is free of discrimination and Turkey has its own issues on discrimination. “When we say discrimination in Turkey, what immediately comes to mind is the situation of Turkish workers in Europe. … The Turkish Republic was established at a time when diversity was seen a threat rather than a source for richness. But Turkey is now going through an enormous economic and social change,” she said, and expressed her wish that the program would give participants a chance to look at their own societies from a new perspective.
Another speaker, Ahmet Böken — editor-in-chief of TRT Haber — approached the topic of discrimination from a different perspective and focused on employment in the media sector. He said European media outlets and their editors have been questioning if press organs currently employ an adequate number of members from all ethnic groups in their societies, representing a broader diversity.
“I do not think this is possible at all, at least for Turkey. It is said that there are 52 ethnic groups in Turkey. This figure may change for different sources. What is best, for us, is to encourage press organs to open their doors to all ethnic groups in society, which means stronger communication between members of the press and members of ethnic groups, “ Böken said.
Participants were later asked to partner in groups of two to three to produce a report offering different perspectives on intercultural dialogue and the fight against discrimination, focusing particularly on how a media intercultural production can contribute to reduce prejudices and to fight against discrimination.
Fight against discrimination in employment
According to the “Speak out against discrimination” campaign, media organizations should take certain steps to actively combat discrimination in employment. Suggested steps include posting all job vacancies online and making appointments on a fair and non-discriminatory basis and making the results publicly available; exploring how to widen the recruitment base; publishing their employment and recruitment policies openly; and establishing and communicating clear and quantifiable goals such as minimum targets in diversity recruitment, minimum annual training hours for the workforce and concrete targets for representation. Further important steps include enabling journalists from minority communities to report on all aspects of the news and not simply community issues; modernizing the casting and portrayal of minorities and minority issues in mainstream broadcasting programming; establishing industry standards for the collection of monitoring data; and sharing non-commercially sensitive research on cultural diversity.

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