Barcelona: Journalists On Media Responsibility

April 19th, 2011

Spanish journalists are joining forces to promote the production of more responsible news on the subjects of integration and immigration in the media. The growing influence of media on the public debate on immigration, including politics, has prompted journalists to think about ways their reporting practices on immigration issues could contribute to a more positive and inclusive environment for coexistence.

At a recent meeting in Barcelona (March 15, 2011), the Fundación Bertelsmann took the lead, convening thought leaders around the issue of a more responsible media by organizing a Reflection Forum on the Treatment of Cultural Diversity in the Media. The panel consisted of 16 leading journalists, all working on immigration issues with major media sector organizations, such as Televisión Española, the Cadena SER radio station and newspapers like El Mundo and ABC. Also in attendance were journalists working in regions with a high percentage of immigrants in the population, such as Catalonia, Andalusia and the Canary Islands.

During the Forum debate, the journalists tabled their ideas and recommendations for courses of action for their own professional and other media groups. Included were training initiatives and activities to raise media awareness across different Spanish regions and sectors by involving not only writers but also area editors and chief editors. This latter group includes the people with decision-making power around content and the form in which it finally appears. The journalists were also in favour of measures for self-regulation, such as creating “diversity committees” for each media type and drafting specific style manuals on suitable language to use when writing news about immigration and integration issues.

However, perhaps the most outstanding Forum outcome was the journalists’ decision to create a social network that will initially engage the panel members themselves and then be extended to include other groups issuing news about immigration. This will be particularly interesting because it will include non-Spanish nationals and international media personalities that can inform and facilitate the exchange of different perspectives and new ideas. It is hoped this ‘interculturality’ will be mutually enriching while making it possible to breakdown stereotypes.

The Fundación Bertelesmann has accepted the task of coordinating this social network for journalists, which will soon go online in one of the main 2.0 platforms. Look out for this interesting conversation with the experts!

Article submitted by: Monique Dissartz, Fundación Bertelesmann. The Fundación Bertelesmann is a partner in Cities of Migration.

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