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.


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.