Call for papers – International Conference «Migrations / Mediations»

The International Conference «Migrations / Mediations. Promoting intercultural dialogue through media, arts and culture» will take place on April 6 & 7 at Cattolica University in Milano, Italy.
The deadline for submissions is 1 February 2020. Interested contributors should send a 300-500 word abstract and a short biographical note to migrations.mediations@unicatt.it

Additional information regarding the project «Migration/Mediations» is available at this link.

New Neighbours in community media meet in Vienna

OKTO TV and Radio ORANGE 94.0 hosted New Neighbours editors in Vienna for 3 days of training and production at the end of November 2019. 

ORANGE 94.0 is one of the largest community radios in the German-speaking world, with over 500 volunteers and 150 programs. Broadcasting since 1998, it provides diverse content in 25 languages and alternative music to its audience. Journalists from the broadcast series “New Life in Vienna” discussed the chances and challenges of a multicultural team, and the shared the ‘lessons learnt’ from their program. “New Life in Vienna” was an information program on Radio ORANGE 94.0 produced in Arabic, Dari, Somali, English and German, that addressed newly arrived refugees in Vienna.

Participants also visited OKTO TV, where they had the chance to learn the basics of mobile video production and get to know the daily routine of a community TV station. OKTO was established in the fall of 2005, providing training, infrastructure and support to around 500 volunteer producers. The group produced various multilingual media outputs, interviews and films:

“New Neighbours” Official Trailer

The New Neighbours series tells moving and exciting stories of present-day Europe, from the picturesque Sicilian village of Sutera which refugees infused with new life to a smart Berlin neighbourhood where local pubs are largely closed to new neighbours, a Barcelona region with a 30% migrant population, where a Pakistani community found their new home and build their own mosque, and a Slovenian village where three Syrian families are introducing huge change. 

The series is being broadcasted in nine European countries. It will also provide food for thought at discussions and training sessions that will be held by New Neighbours project consortium partners. 

The full stories are available here.

Frontex wanted to monitor “civil society and diaspora communities in destinations (EU)”

Despite the EU’s data protection provide some limits over how far EU bodies, governments and corporations can go when they decided to spy on people, on September 2019 Frontex decide to publish a tender inviting surveillance companies to bid for the project, that it has mysteriously cancelled less than a month later.

The tender invited surveillance companies to bid for the project aimed to monitor the internet use of migrants and civil society, the purpose of the agency would have been to give up to €400,000 to a surveillance company to track people on social media so that border guards would have obtained “an understanding of the current landscape” as well as “a strategical warning system on changes such as the socio-political, economic or human security environment that could pose challenges to Frontex policies” (Essentially, they wanted to spy on their social media to see what they were up to).

In addition to gathering “data and analysis of relevant actors using social media: migrants; traffickers/smugglers”, Frontex also wanted to monitor “civil society and diaspora communities in destinations (EU).

NGOs such as Statewatch and journalists at Mediapart had noticed the tender, leading to Frontex having to defend the project by claiming, to the bemusement of some of Privacy International’s data protection experts, that “the required service does not entail collecting, processing, sharing or storing of any personal data by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency”. So with that in mind, Privacy International set up an account on the procurement website and asked them some pretty detailed questions to find out how they came to the conclusions they did, and if they had gone through the necessary checks to make sure their plan was legal.

These questions were based on a single legal instrument, Regulation 2018/1725, which is the equivalent of the GDPR for EU institutions and is thus meant to regulate how EU bodies like Frontex process personal data. Similar to other questions, the agency would have had to publish the answers on the tender site. But within a few days, they decided to cancel the tender, justifying their decision by “the upcoming entry into force of the new European Border and Coast Guard Regulation.”

Read the full article on Privacy International’s blog.

 

New Neighbours: Two Film Screenings in Brussels

On Thursday, the European Broadcasting Union will screen two documentaries from the New Neighbours series. Both films examine the project’s core themes: how do refugees and migrants adjust to new surroundings, and how do old communities adjust to their new neighbours’ presence?

Here the trailer and the plot of both documentaries:

“Across the Road — Worlds Apart”  follows the story of 94 year old Eva Sternheim-Peters, whose childhood was defined by leading the girl’s wing of the Nazi party’s youth movement. Over the course of her life, she had a political awakening and now shares her apartment with Amer Kassab, a young Syrian refugee. But not everyone in the neighborhood had the same journey. Across the street, a pub frequently welcomes clientele with German nationalist, anti-Muslim views. Could Amer’s presence change their mind?

“Danielle’s Choice”  follows the story of Danielle, a Belgian woman who runs a robust platform of volunteers helping new refugees find accommodation and get on their feet. But in the process, her own family is left feeling forgotten. How can she reconcile her need to be a part of her own family, while creating a new one?

Please find more information on the film screening here

New Neighbours releases

“The films are done but it feels like the start of a new journey as we must let go of our productions, let them live their life with the audience” says Daniela Draštata, the series executive co-producer as she prepares the collection for the broadcast. Nine films had their pre-premiere in Potsdam, during the Prix Europa festival. “Programme makers were both excited about showing their films and finishing what turned out to be quite a challenging production”.

“Following protagonists for a long period of time, getting them to say things they usually hide, achieving that fine balance between facts and emotions that television produces; those were the demands the authors had to meet. We wanted our viewers to stay glued to the screen until the end of film and I believe we have succeeded” says Daniela. “With so many talented authors, you cannot fail!”

The films are aimed at a wider audience, not only at those who are interested in topics connected to migrants, refugees and people under international protection in Europe.

Each story describes a specific challenge of a multicultural Europe, but also talks about women and men who Unselfishly give to others without expecting any reward. Belgian film director Safia Kessas followed an extraordinary woman who opened her house to refugees. Why Danielle? “Because despite obstacles, she follows her choices to the end, she is an active citizen who resists” says Safia..

Danielle – because the most welcoming people are women and in Europe they are the ones we see on the screen the least. Danielle – because she is a strong, courageous and determined woman who shows us the human face of migration. Safia’s fellow director from the RTBF, Mathieu Neuprez, enjoyed working in a group: “It is a unique opportunity to compare and discuss documentaries with fellow directors from other European countries. This is a great way for directors to experience other ways of directing since every country has its own culture of film making. The results of this process are movies that are completely different from one country to another”.

Indeed, from Belgium to the south of Italy, not only film language, but stories of old and new neighbours differ. The RAI’s team decided to go to Sicily and its picturesque town of Sutera. The director Antonello Savoca explains: “I chose Sutera for two reasons: first, because it’s a truly European story. Sicily is not only the largest island in the Mediterranean but also the entrance to Europe for those who cross the sea in makeshift boats in search of better living conditions. Secondly, because of the history of this place, starting from its very name: ‘Sutera’ comes from the Greek word for saviour (‘soter’), which recalls the concepts of salvation and acceptance. And that’s exactly what our protagonists received from the inhabitants of that small town. Ironically, Sutera failed to save its own inhabitants, four-fifths of which were forced to go abroad looking, just like those who arrive here, for better working and living conditions”.

“The New Neighbours documentary production was not only a professional, but also a personal experience”, emphasises Daniela Attilini, head of RAI’s crew: “It gave us the opportunity to delve deep into characters’ lives, to understand their feelings, their ideas, their fears and their hopes. And it’s important to depict our complex and changing society. To our audience New Neighbours could be a kind of photo, a kind of tool or a chance to go deeper, not only in Italy but also in many other European countries. I think that this is a true public service.”

But fulfilling the role of a public service is not always simple. The Czech television team wanted to show as accurate a picture of their country as possible, so they found new neighbours in a Bulgarian family. Barbora Svobodova, ČT producer: “I´ve been working on the second season of New Neighbours”.

“It´s a great experience as well as certainly a more complicated production because it´s an international project. What I found most interesting was meeting colleagues from other TVs within the EBU, sharing experiences with them and finding out that we had struggled with similar difficulties. Also, an interesting part of this year´s production was to experience conditions of an “EU-funded project“ and to be part of a bigger group with civil society organizations and community media”.

Though these authors are very film-oriented, they were aware of the “second life” of their programmes. The films will be used by EBU’s civil society and community media partners as case studies both for a filmmaking process, but also for a refugee-related discussion.”

Here We Are! Come in and listen to Our Voice

The refugee editorial group Our Voice hosted media partners from Spain, Slovenia and Italy at Radio Dreyeckland in Freiburg from October 20th to 23rd, to share effective approaches for intercultural and multilingual productions. The resolution taken at the New Neighbours Format Development Workshop was to strengthen working relations and outreach programmes amongst community media across Europe. Producers from Radio Student in Ljubljana (Slovenia), Radio Televisio Cardedeu in Catalonia (Spain) and Mondinsieme Intercultural Centre, Reggio Emilia (Italy) worked together with the team of Our Voice at RDL to produce a joint radio show with different viewpoints and multicultural voices.

Here you can listen our jingle for the radio show:

Third Workshop for CSOs in Spain

The New Neighbours project completed its third Media Skills Training for CSOs in Madrid, Spain, during the dates of September 23-25, 2019.

One of our project partners, Media Diversity Institute (MDI), organised the three day workshop, which trained Spanish civil society activists in how to more effectively create campaigns, and communicate with journalists to spread constructive stories about migrants and refugees and counter Islamophobia in the media.

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The workshop took place at the Spanish Commission in Support of Refugees (CEAR) offices. Many of the participants represented a wide range of Spanish organisations, including but not limited to “Por Causa” which works on journalism and migration, “La Rueca” which works with communities in underprivileged neighborhoods and “SEDOAC” which supports the rights of domestic workers, who are largely migrants coming from Latin America.
By bringing together a range of different organisations that support refugees and migrants in different ways, the New Neighbors workshop was able to create valuable networking opportunities.

For this training, New Neighbors coordinated with two local organisations: Al Fanar Foundation for Arab Knowledge and Spanish Commission in Support of Refugees (CEAR). Both organisations were able to tailor the workshop to the needs of the Spanish CSOs, including but not limited to bringing in El Mundo journalist Rosa Menses and Blanca Tapia of the European Agency for Fundamental Human Rights to give journalists firsthand advice on how to build and improve relationships with the media. 

“Chosing the right words and rhetoric in our campaign determines the reception of the message,”

Tapia told the participants, emphasizing that these word choices can either make or break a story.

Spain, in and of itself, is also an interesting country for the workshop. Unlike other New Neighbours countries which have been a part of the “refugee trail” to Europe, Spain has a slightly different relationship to migration. While Spain has seen its fair share of migration over time, particularly from North Africa and Latin America, it has not experience the same sudden population increase of migrants and refugees as countries like Germany or Italy, and thus is facing less xenophobia in the media.

However, Islamophobia is still a problem, something that was brought up by Al Fanar Foundation for Arab Knowledge Director Pedro Rojo—for this reason, many of the discussion topics revolved around how to counter Islamophobia, more than anti-migrant sentiment as seen in other workshops.

During the workshop, participants were able to brainstorm creative campaigns and initiatives to reduce Islamophobia and showcase how refugees and migrants, or “new neighbours,” can be a positive addition to Spanish society. Many participants said that the workshop helped them particularly with campaign messaging, and making sure that they focused on positive stories to combat the image of migrants and refugees as eternal victims.
Over the next few months, a few of the participants will have a chance to further develop and implement these campaigns.

New Neighbours has run similar workshops in Italy, Croatia, and Germany and will do an additional workshop in Belgium over the course of the project.

Fourth Workshop for CSOs in Germany

Fourth Workshop for CSOs in Germany The New Neighbours project completed its third Media Skills Training for CSOs in Berlin, Germany during the dates of October 10-12, 2019.

One of our project partners, Media Diversity Institute (MDI), organised the three day workshop, which trained German civil society activists in how to more effectively create campaigns, and communicate with journalists to spread constructive stories about migrants and refugees.

Many of the participants worked closely with refugees and migrants, in legal, cultural and economic development capacities. According to Media Diversity Institute trainer Dasha Ilic, their expertise was apparent:

“These participants were among some of the strongest I’ve worked with. Their level of understanding context in which anti-migrant sentiments are created, and how to counter them was extremely high and provided me with new insights to bring to future trainings.”

However, while they are used to working closely with refugees, they were not as used to working with journalists to get their message out—which is what the workshop focused on.

At the workshop, participants discussed issues such as how to discuss the far right’s hateful narrative without spreading it, and how to include more migrants’ voices in the media. They also discussed practical tips, such as how to contact, approach and maintain positive relationships with journalists.

During the “hands on” parts of the workshop, participants brainstormed campaign ideas that journalists could more easily translate into news stories, worked on pre- existing campaigns, and practiced being interviewed by journalists.

“The flexibility of the workshop agenda and trainer allowed this workshop to best suit the needs of the participants, who benefited greatly from spontaneous practical exercises such as practicing getting interviewed by a journalist and editing existing campaigns,”

said Sophia Burton, who helped organize the workshop and attended it representing the CSO Migration Matters. She also mentioned that although all of the participants work in the same field, many of them did not know each other previously.

“The workshop provided a valuable networking space for future collaborations. “The diverse group of participants, coming from communications, PR, marketing and advocacy were also encouraged throughout to share what has worked well for them and where they have been struggling,”

Burton continued.

“This facilitated an exchange of knowledge and allowed the participants to make important contacts for future projects.”

Many participants expressed that the workshop inspired them to build their network of contacts with local journalists, with hopes of having their work represented more in the mainstream media. One participant is looking forward to reaching out to local journalists to help her spread a video series she has been working on about refugee entrepreneurship in Berlin. Another said that she looks forward to following up with a local journalist that trainer, Dasha Ilic, put her in contact with—and is further inspired to establish a good relationship with many journalists. Most everyone is empowered, knowing that they can reach out to journalists, instead of waiting for journalists to come to them.

“I can definitely say that we are all going to work with journalists in a whole new way after this workshop,”

said Christoph Buerglen, who works for the organization Kiron, which provides open higher education for refugees. He continued:

“Before the workshop, we thought we had to wait for journalists to reach out to us, but now we know that we can reach out ourselves, and establish an ongoing relationship, I also personally learned a lot from the interview training—body language, strategy and an overall insight into the world of journalism.”

Germany is a particularly important country for this workshop, given that it is home to the largest population of refugees and migrants in the European Union. While the media narrative was quite positive in 2015, particularly after Angela Merkel suspended the Dublin convention allowing huge numbers of people to claim asylum in Germany, the recent rise of far right parties such as the Alternatives for Deutscheland (AFD) party have lead to more toxic narratives in the German media, and a need for strategies to combat them.

Many of the workshop participants have watched this sea change happen first hand, and would like to get the positive messages of what their CSOs are doing with migrants into the media to combat these negative messages.

By learning more about the media ecosystem, participants were empowered with the knowledge that they can effect change on some of the negative coverage that greatly affects their organisations and beneficiaries. Over the next few months, a few of the participants will have the chance to further develop their own media campaigns, with the goal of showing how “new neighbours” can have a positive impact on German society.

New Neighbours has run similar workshops in Italy, Croatia, and Spain and will do an additional workshop in Belgium over the course of the project.