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.

New Neighbours in Community Media meet in Siena

New Neighbours” is about people who had to leave their home and try to integrate into a new neighbourhood, new village, new city, new society. Community Media empower the „New Neighbours“ and provide them a place to develop their independent voices and make them heard in public debate.

A small group of community media producers and coordinators from all over Europe met in Siena (Italy) to share what has worked well in their intercultural work/programs so far, what is needed to make the programs more sustainable / visible, and to jointly develop some creative ideas for new outreach initiatives on a gr grass-roots level .This seminar was organized by Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE).

You can find a video report produced by Senad Hergic of  OKTO TV at this link.

OKTO is a community television in Vienna, established in the fall of 2005, providing training, infrastructure and support to around 500 volunteer producers.

24 September: New Neighbours at Prix Italia

Founded in Capri il 1948, Prix Italia is an international media competion. Organised by RAI, it aims to promote top quality Radio, Tv and Internet programmes.  The 2019 edition will take place from 23 to 28 September in Rome.

The new productions of the New Neighbours project will be presented on the second day . Daniela Drastata, chairwoman of the EBU Intercultural and Diversity Group and producer of the series  will participate at 2 p.m’s panel titled “The art of cross-cultural storytelling: how to conceive and produce stories capable of crossing national and cultural boundaries and involve different audiences “.

The round table will focus on the rule of “make one, take all“, a method to design documentaries that are multi-national from the beginning.

Here the full program.

New Neighbours Workshop at ECREA Radio Research Conference

The Department of Social, Political and Cognitive Sciences of the University of Siena, Italy will host the New Neighbours Community Outreach Workshop from September 18 to 20, in conjunction with the ECREA Radio Research Conference 2019 – Radio as a Social Media: community, participation, public values in the platform society.

Hosted and produced by CMFE – Community Media Forum Europe, the New Neighbours workshop will bring together fifteen editors and journalists from intercultural radio/TV programmes in community media to brainstorm and develop local, creative ideas to acquire new collaborators and extend audience engagement.

The workshop will be led by experienced communication consultant and film-maker Ngalula Beatrice Kabutakapua, who co-foundend Balobeshayi, a social cooperative facilitating the integration of migrants in urban spaces.

New Neighbours Fact sheets: Country reports on media and migration

New Neighbours presents a series of fact sheets that local researchers have created for the project in cooperation with COMMIT.

These reports provide fact-based insights into the area of media and migration in different European countries. The compiled information is available for Portugal, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Croatia and Spain. 

The fact sheets serve as a basis for project communication and address issues relevant to the focus group discussions that will be held in 2020 after the broadcast of the New Neighbours’ new TV documentaries in each country.

For more info click here.

Time for a new narrative around migration

A recent Institut Jacques Delors’ Paper on EU asylum policy calls for a new narrative around migration, based on the principle of protecting human rights.

According to Eurobarometer, the majority of Europeans feel their governments should help refugees. Every EU country subscribes to the Geneva Convention and to the Union acquis, which are basic to EU membership and should thus constitute the focal point of a strong counter-argument against the exclusionary language of right-wing populists.

A credible migration narrative should also endorse the simple truth that migration reflects human reality and will likely increase over time. Instead of focussing on reducing it to a minimum, questions as to how to shape human mobility in a way that reaps its benefits and diminishes its negative side effects should underpin the EU’s communications strategy.

Here the full article.

Barcelona, 11 and 12 July 2019: Filmmakers brainstorming

Public service broadcasters from throughout Europe have met to share their rough-cut films for the EU-funded New Neighbours project.

The meeting, hosted by the EBU’s Spanish Member RTVE, brought together more than twenty directors and producers from nine broadcasters – RTBF Belgium, HRT Croatia, ČTV Czech Republic, NTR The Netherlands, DW Germany, RAI Italy, RTP Portugal, RTV SLO Slovenia and RTVE Spain – to showcase their documentaries.

NTR team from The Netherlands and participants to the film “The Apartment Building”

Filmmakers could share their opinions about each other’s work to improve the productions. The rough- cut meeting represents a kind of international audience testing that helps directors and producers make their documentaries work for a broad audience. Each broadcaster tells a story with a specific national insight, but the collection works as a series

Series Executive Producer Daniela Drastata explains:

“The collection will give a unique European overview of integration, prejudice, fears and humanity. It will show what it means to be a neighbour. It seems to be very easy to stay in your own bubble and not interact, regardless of who your neighbours are. I think there are many reasons why it is good to know your neighbours: from safety to just living peacefully, and if your neighbours come from a distant culture, those things matter even more, concludes Daniela and stresses: I feel privileged working with so many talented and enthusiastic filmmakers from the whole of Europe who use the same film language and dare to open tough topics.”

Fragment of “On the other side” by RTVE, Spain

Fellow Series Executive Frans Jennekens comments:

“I think these nine documentaries will tell a unique story about changing Europe from the viewpoint of common people who feel their life is, for the first time, influenced by new neighbours, who come from all over the world with different cultures, religions and opinions. This complicated process of integration, of withdrawal and acceptance, is filmed within the microcosmos of ordinary people, in ordinary houses in ordinary streets, I hope the series will give an insight that will be recognized by many viewers.”

Filming in Sutera( CL) for ” Ghost Town”, RAI (Italy)

Christel Goossens, New Neighbours project manager, adds:

“These documentaries are at the heart of the EU-funded project “New Neighbours”, carried out with our partners from community media and civil society organizations. We do hope that these programmes will facilitate a discussion around issues of integration and acceptance”

Picture from Croatian film “Hope House” – HRT

The New Neighbours series will tell 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 will be released in October and will be 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.


Journalism in an age of populism and polarization: lesson from Italian debate in Italy

The study report “Journalism in an age of populism and polarization: lesson from Italian debate in Italy” , is now available online. The study was carried out by the LSE Arena in collaboration with the University Ca ‘Foscari of Venice and the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This unique work, which lasted for years, involved the analysis of thousands of comments online, with a focus on articles with a migration theme (a sadly instrumentalization-fruitful field ).

The common aim was to develop strategies and good practices to overcome the sensationalist and polarized system in which the world of information seems to have narrowed by now, dynamics that affect democracy and  favor the so-called “populist parties”  and which in part are shaped  by the network architecture itself end by the tech-market:

“The ad-tech market is in turn powered by the algorithmic architecture of the internet and social media, which is skewed towards highly emotive, hyper-partisan material that appeals to existing confirmation biases and feeds more ‘shares’ and ‘likes’. The very architecture of the internet rewards news organizations and individual users who take ever more extreme and polarising positions 1- an algorithmic logic that in turn encourages the ‘populist’ politicians. They, in their turn, create content that mainstream media feels it is obliged to describe….and so the spiral spins on”

we read on the introductive pages of the report.

The main innovative proposal of this research project was to elaborate a new systems for measuring the success of an article: no longer based on likes and sharing but on the ability to be the driving force of a constructive rather than a toxic discourse or in the ability to enhance trust in the audience. In the article we find a detailed analysis of the political and social context and the changing dynamics of the media. Measurements and analysis are carried out in different aspects: content, style, topics of the contents and  data analysis.

A more shared responsibility of the people involved in the information, with respect to the contents disseminated online, can be a way to improve the quality of the news and the attitude of the readers and it is worth looking for increasingly effective strategies.  However, it is clear that to produce actual changes it is the architecture of the Internet itself that must be challenged , as Peter Pomerantsev, Director of LSE Arena Program states in the introductory pages:

“Breaking the polarisation spiral will require, first and foremost, greater public oversight of the algorithms and social media models that currently encourage extremism. Such regulation is already well on its way in Europe, and public pressureis growing in the US. It is important any regulation is not focused on censorship and‘take-downs’, but on encouraging accurate content, high editorial standards and providingpeople with a balanced diet of content rather than encasing them in ‘echo chambers’. Breaking the polarisation spiral will also mean reforming the ad-tech system, to create incentives for content that is not just ‘clickable’, but also fosters more thoughtful engagement. As this report shows, it is possible to consider ‘public service spirited’ metrics ofsuccess, but the environment has to radically change if media are to focus on content that fosters a politics that revolves less around populist personalities, disinformation and polarisation.”

here the full report.