Mediane UK Conference – the highlights

Following the three day event at City University in London, delegates tell the team about their conference experience


Reporting Social Issues: The Challenges

Spanish freelance journalist Maria Crespo says one of the main issues she faces as a social issues  journalist is access. As a reporter for the global website Equal Times – News at Work, she covers topics such as the treatment of immigrants in Spain’s Immigration Detention Centres. Journalists are not allowed into the centres – the only way to get in is to be a family member of one of the people held there. People also often don’t want to talk about the problems they face and there are not many reliable numbers.


She says she uses various techniques to encourage people to talk to her. For a story about families, who lost their home as a result of the the housing crisis in Spain, she told them that they may help people in the same situation:

“They feel ashamed, isolated and frustrated but if you show them they can help others, that often gets them talking.”

Equal Times is a website based in Brussels, which is supported by the international Trade Union of Confederation. It employs 50 freelance journalists all over the world.  Maria Crespo says the project is a very advanced idea in her opinion.

“The idea is to talk about it from the perspective of what happens in the place where it happens not only from an outside perspective. We are all human, we all care about social issues, instead of sending a correspondent to the place, let’s have a global network.”

The website is funded by a trade union but Crespo says that doesn’t influence the reporting. She says she has never been censored and has been free in the way she reports.


Language and Immigration in the media: Do we need a glossary of appropriate words?

Italian journalist Giorgio Zanchini spoke out against language discrimination and hate speech in articles about immigration in Italy’s press at today’s conference session. He said immigration has been a recent phenomenon in Italy. It went up from 0.5 to 3million in the last 6 years.

However, immigration is never reported in a neutral way and always seen in a political context. Zanchini sees language as a central problem, saying that headlines containing swear words and other offensive and aggressive phrases are used on TV.

“We’ve had superficial, lazy and sometimes violent ways of describing immigration in the press.”

IMG_5722Zanchini proposes a glossary with appropriate words and expressions that can be used as there is not much awareness of which words are offensive and which aren’t. Even if journalists write articles showing attention to objectivity and language, editors often write offensive headlines.

Italy does have a self-regulation system for the media in which professional journalists have to take an exam and be part of a guild and can also be sanctioned. However, not all people who write for papers are part of the guild and therefore they can’t be sanctioned. Giorgio Zanchini also admits that the question of freedom of expression when it comes to language is difficult.

Social media is not helping to keep the balance because the Italian audience is divided into a right-wing and left wing group and there is not much discussion between these groups. The national discussion about this social issue is lacking, according to Zanchini.

Fabricated stories are another problem. In one case, a newspaper accused two Roma men of raping an Italian girl but the story turned out to be wrong – the attackers were Italian. In another instance a campaign was launched in the press against Albanians after an Italian girl and her boyfriend killed her mother but claimed Albanians committed the crime.

Photo Gallery: Day 2 & 3

LIVE: Towards inclusive journalism training

The MEDIANE London Encounter is now in its final day, and the last session will focus on bringing together ideas from show & tells and group work to build common guidelines on inclusive journalism training. Reynald Blion and Diane Kemp will facilitate this talk, which will be followed by conclusions and next steps for MEDIANE with:

  • Reynald Blion, Media & Diversity and MEDIANE Programme Manager, CoE
  • Paul De Theux, Director, Media Animation
  • Anna McKane, Consultant, EJTA – European Journalism Training Association
  • Prof. George Brock, Head of Journalism, City University London

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Mary Honeyball MEP: media diversity inclusiveness

Mary Honeyball MEP talks gender issues, diversity inclusiveness in the media, and quotas ahead of her presentation at MEDIANE. A detailed report of the session can be found here.

Reynald Blion about the role of the Council of Europe

Reynald Blion helps run MEDIANE. In this video he explains a bit more about the role of the Council of Europe in supporting inclusiveness and diversity in the media

Testing the MEDIANE Box

The MEDIANE Box is an action oriented online tool that monitors practices in relation to diversity inclusiveness, and aims to support development through specific recommendations on a case by case basis.

The tool is aimed at media managers, journalists, and media trainers, and provides relevant indicators for self-monitoring.

Participants at the MEDIANE London Encounter got the chance to test a version of the MEDIANE Box designed for journalism trainers after an introductory session lead by Dr. Myria Georgiou from the London School of Economics.

The MEDIANE Box has four main interfaces: employment and work practices, content development, ethics and journalism practice, and strategies for development.

Dr. Georgiou explains how the tool works:

Participants were asked to test the MEDIANE Box and assess how user friendly it is, whether the questions it asks make sense, and if there is anything missing.

The impact the tool will have on its users depends on the way journalists and media trainers will engage with it. Dr. Georgiou explains:

How did you find it? Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #mediane_uk.

AS IT HAPPENED: Mary Honeyball MEP gives a European perspective

Labour MEP Mary Honeyball gave MEDIANE a European take on media diversity inclusiveness and gender issues. Her talk included marginalised groups but focused on gender issues.

Video Interview: Mary Honeyball MEP talks media inclusiveness and gender issues

17:37: Honeyball says women are still “very marginalised” within the media. She has come straight from Brussels to City University London, and says she’s very pleased that there are now more Labour MEPs than men, “the first time we’ve managed to achieve that”. She says he is a great believer in quotas. She gives Sweden as an example of a country that manages to have a parliament that is half women. Honeyball says even Sweden would be struggling without quotas. How are we going to tackle the problem?

17:41: “It’s absolutely appalling” that representation of women in the media is even worse than in politics. There’s an illusion that there are more women in the media than there actually are.

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Coming up – Mary Honeyball MEP

We’re delighted that Mary Honeyball, Labour MEP for London will be addressing the conference shortly. Catalina and Ariana managed to catch up with her…see the results in a bit!