Media Lessons for Local Leaders

December 17th, 2010

Speakers at the 2010 Cities of Migration Conference represented a wide range of sectors and interests, from city governments, to local and international NGOs, advocacy groups and  media, to the private sector and academics. We share some of their key points with you here, and invite you to watch the highlights from our video gallery.

Media Panel:
Bashy Quraishy, Susan Marjetti, Rokhaya Diallo, and Frank Sharry

Bashy Quraishy, Chief Editor, MediaWatch, and Chair, Advisory Council, European Network Against Racism-ENAR (Copenhagen)

  • Creating a healthy and robust media includes promoting more ethnic minorities in both mainstream and ethnic minority media (this includes minority languages).
  • Diversity in the media must be present on all levels – managers, editors, journalists – and include all types of media, including newspapers, TV, and websites.
  • To achieve integration success, civil society must engage media proactively and demand greater balance and more neutrality in the media

Susan Marjetti, Managing Director (Toronto), CBC-Radio, TV, Online

  • Engage your audience (and potential audience) by listening to the stories that they want to hear or that are relevant to them.
  • Having a diverse production team means that different stories emerge, and it is less likely that only one staff member will have to argue for the story’s relevancy.
  • The public has a role to play in promoting diversity in the media – people need to be willing to come forward and share their stories when asked.

Rokhaya Diallo, President, Les Indivisibles (Paris)

  • Humour can be used as a tactic to deconstruct prejudice and stereotypes. One way to evolve perceptions is to make fun of them.
  • Journalists don’t think their reporting is racist unless they are challenged. However, thepoint is not only to point out racism but to present an alternative discourse so people can form a more balanced position on the issues..
  • Well-placed volunteers can be used for successful campaigning. Les Indivisibles have used well-know celebrities for award ceremonies and for anti-racist mock events like a casting call for ‘white people’ at a French city hall.
  • It is not enough to only have non-white media hosts; the entire production team should reflect the diverse backgrounds that make up the audience. It is the team that decides what gets reported and how the reporting is delivered.

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director, America’s Voice (Washington)

  • Online media has the potential to be a media watchdog and shape the narrative on issues by bypassing the mainstream. For example, through reporting corrections.
  • Online media (when a communications strategy is in place) allows for fast pick-up on issues with the potential for the media reports to go viral through the wired social network. It is less about begging the press for attention than about following and framing the issues so the press is getting your message along with the news.
  • A way to influence policymakers is through journalists – influence them and reach policymakers.
  • Stories that make it through to media have to be interesting or presented in unusual ways. You need to have interesting content to break through the information clutter, for example, through using humour and making fun of people.

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