NEW NEIGHBOURS – a new project promoting intercultural media spaces

Migration policy is one of the hottest topics on the political agenda of the upcoming European elections on May 23-26, when up to 400 million EU citizens will select their representatives in the European Parliament for the next 5 years. In a climate of increasing populism and disinformation, the New Neighbours website, launched today, aims to provide factual information and real stories on daily life in an intercultural European Union.

According to a recent Eurobarometer survey on integration of immigrants in the European Union, attitudes towards migration differ greatly amongst EU citizens, depending on their nationality, age, level of education and urbanisation, amongst other factors. Overall, respondents tend to overestimate the number of non-EU immigrants: in 19 out of the 28 Member States, people believe that the number of immigrants in their country is twice to three times as high than the real figures.

So how do citizens form their opinions, what sources of information shape local and national discourse? While 39% of Europeans believe that the media representation of immigrants is objective, 36% say it is too negative and 13% don’t know what to think. So, there is huge space for improvement! New Neighbours is collecting good practice and success stories on how to provide factual information on migration, as well as promoting direct participation of migrants and refugees in media production. The website will grow during the life of the project, reinforcing networks and showcasing media outputs produced.

New Neighbours is the most recent piece in a puzzle of European projects and efforts carried out by leading international and national media and civil society organisations to promote responsible journalism and respectful dialogue amongst all members of society. Led by the European Broadcasting Union, the 24-month project runs until the end of 2020 and is producing the third edition of the documentary film series New Neighbours, involving 9 European Public Service Broadcasters from Croatia, Germany, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Italy, Slovenia, Belgium, Spain and Portugal. The films explore real stories of new encounters between ‘locals’ and ‘newly arrived’ citizens, showing the complexities and richness of intercultural integration processes. In the development of the new series, expected to launch in the autumn of this year, the broadcasters are cooperating with local civil society and community media organisations in order to explore creative angles and ideas.

Alongside the PSM film productions, which build the heart of the New Neighbours project, a series of complementary productions, trainings and research activities are taking place, under the responsibility of the project partners CMFE, COMMIT, COSPE and MDI.

MDI – Media Diversity Institute, with 20+ years of experience in helping to improve reporting on race, ethnicity, religion, human rights and other diversity issues, is training civil society organisations to run their own campaigns and to effectively communicate with journalists to spread constructive stories about migrants and refugees. Through five national Media Skills Trainings for CSOs in Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Germany, civil society activists will have the chance to combine media advocacy with campaigns involving migrants and refugees as well as locals.

CMFE – Community Media Forum Europe, the umbrella organisation representing networks, national federations and projects of the non-profit media sector, is working with experienced migrant community radio and TV producers to train new volunteer media makers in intercultural and multilingual productions. Based on the experiences collected in the Spaces of Inclusion report, exchanges and co-operations between editorial groups in Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Croatia and Slovenia will take place throughout the project.

COSPE Onlus, a leading Italian NGO promoting fair and sustainable development, global citizenship, intercultural dialogue and human rights, has developed the project website and is coordinating a series of national discussion meetings to challenge racism and discrimination against migrants, minorities, refugees and asylum seekers. COSPE will also organise the final project conference in the autumn of 2020.

COMMIT, leveraging its experience in training and research in the field of community media and life-long learning, is leading the project’s research activities, including national reports and focus groups to explore good practice on media and migration and to assess audience feedback to the New Neighbours films.

Daniela Drastata, chairwoman of the EBU Intercultural and Diversity Group commented:

I am delighted we have this great opportunity to see the EBU Intercultural and Diversity Group’s documentary collection New Neighbours growing and developing into an EU funded project that now involves organisations known for their excellence in recognising diversity as an opportunity.”

We look forward to seeing the New Neighbours website develop into a reference point for media, policy makers and civil society, and we welcome inputs and materials from all organisations committed to promoting intercultural dialogue and integration.” said Alessia Giannoni, project manager at COSPE Onlus.

New Neighbours is funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

You can follow the project via #newneighbours and www.newneighbours.eu

For further information, please contact:

Nadia Bellardi, CMFE, nadia.bellardi(@)cmfe.eu

New Neighbours around Europe

In the coming weeks New Neighbours project will be presented in important international conferences.

The first occasion will be the DW Global Media Forum 2019 on May 27 in Bonn, Germany.

Some days later Daniela Draštata, Editor and Producer in HRT Croatia and Chairwoman of the EBU Intercultural and Diversity Group, will present the New Neighbours project at the Annual Conference of CIRCOM, the European Association of Regional Television, on May 30 in Novi Sad.

The last occasion will be the meeting of the network “Colourful Voices” on June 1, at the yearly Radiocamp organised by German community radios at the Bodensee.  

First workshop for CSOs in Croatia

The New Neighbours project completed its first Media Skills Training for CSOs in Zagreb, Croatia, April 16-18, 2019. One of our project partners, Media Diversity Institute (MDI), organised the three day workshop, which trained Croatian civil society activists in how to more effectively create campaigns, and communicate with journalists to spread constructive stories about migrants and refugees. “There is a large disconnect between people working on sensitive issues, and journalists,” said MDI Social Media Campaigner Nika Jelendorf, who led the training.   Many of the participants expressed frustration at how journalists they had interacted with were no longer interested in covering stories about refugees, or needed a particularly shocking or sensational story in order to see it as newsworthy—even with ongoing human rights abuses.   “The point of this workshop is to help people understand how and why this happens,” Jelendorf continued. “We want the participants to be able to get their message out, while giving to the journalists what they need.”   Croatia is a particularly interesting place for this workshop, given its history during the Balkan wars, and strategic place along the refugee trail. While at the beginning of the current refugee crisis, Croatia was known for being very welcoming towards refugees, the past four years have seen a marked shift in attitudes. Local media is filled with disinformation about migration policies and fear-mongering towards refugees leading to a marked rise in hate crimes. Most recently, refugees trying to cross the border are being pushed back, into Bosnia.   During the workshop, participants were able to brainstorm creative campaigns and initiatives to  keep the conversation about migrants and refugees in the media, and combat the rise in negative media stereotypes by showcasing how refugees and migrants, or “new neighbours,” can be a positive addition to Croatian society.   “A few of the ideas have to do with building campaigns that make parallels between now and thirty years ago, when there were a lot of Croatian migrants and refugees,” Jelendorf shared.   “Some ideas combined media advocacy with activities, helping the CSOs involve in their work both refugees as well as locals.”   Over the next few months, a few of the participants will have a chance to develop these ideas into campaigns. New Neighbours will run similar workshops in Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Germany over the course of the project.

First documentary proposals shared in Lisbon

During the first consortium meeting held on April 2 at RTP in Lisbon, the New Neighbours project partners CMFE, MDI, COSPE and COMMIT had the chance to meet the production teams of all 9 EBU members involved in the project. Initial ideas and proposals for the new episodes of the New Neighbours films were presented – we look forward to the next updates!

New Neighbours national meetings bring together European Public Service Media, community media and CSOs

In February and March more than 100 representatives from community media, CSOs and migrant groups were invited by Public Service Media across Europe to discuss ideas for the forthcoming New Neighbours documentary series. The nine EBU members producing the third series of the New Neighbours films discussed themes and possible stories for the new episodes and collected feedback from migration activists in each country. Whilst some PSM already have a good network of contacts with local NGOs and associations, for others the meeting was a first step in cooperating with organisations and research centres working on migration issues. The meetings took place at HRT (Zagreb), DW (Berlin), Czech TV (Prague), NTR (Hilversum), RAI (Rome), RTVSLO (Ljubljana), RTBF (Brussels), RTVE (Barcelona) and RTP (Lisbon).

In all meetings the challenge of achieving human rights in the migration field was a central theme. Through rich and intense discussions various proposals and ideas were brainstormed, with the aim of finding real stories that can represent the complexity and richness of migration in each country.