Five Media and Diversity Success Stories

Five success stories to get you through the weekend.

By: Mikhail Yakovlev

We have all had our fair share of doom and gloom in recent months. But it isn’t all bad—to help you see some of the positives, here is our round-up of five media diversity successes from the past few days.

Twitter Takes Action on @realdonaldtrump

This month, Twitter updated its “misleading information” policy to keep on top of coronavirus-related conspiracies. The Jury’s still out on how effective the latest changes will really be in practice, but one prominent Tweeter has already fallen foul of the new rules. On 27th May, Twitter broke its internal precedent of refusing action against @realdonaltrump by labelling his recent Tweet – “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent” – as fake news. More enforcement action came today as Twitter censored Trump’s threat to “shoot” anti-racism protesters in Minneapolis. The Tweet in question can no longer be liked, commented or re-Tweeted without commentary.

Emergency Funds Set-up to Help Struggling Filmmakers Around the World

Many independent filmmakers around the world have lost income due to COVID-19. South Africa’s Government was one of the first to offer emergency relief to film-makers, festival organisers and other film professionals. According to Marion Seymour, vice-chair for Sisters Working in Film (SWIFT), R150-million for the entire sector is “far too little.” With little to no government assistance, struggling film makers have turned to independent initiatives, like Toronto Queer Festival’s Queer Emergencies. Want to know what help is available to you? Check out FILM iNDEPENT’s ‘A Long List of Emergency Relief Funds for Filmmakers and Other Creatives’ and The Screen Daily’s list of funding, free trainings and other opportunities for film-makers.

For freelance media professionals outside film-making, Rory Peck Trust COVID-19 Hardship Fund offers freelance news journalists around the world “a single grant of between £200-£900 to contribute to subsistence (home/food) costs.”

Community Groups Launch WhatsApp Portal to Reach Spanish-speakers in Arizona with COVID-19 Information and Help

The global health emergency has impacted everyone. But, as we have reported on extensively at MDI, “people of color, immigrants and working class communities were disproportionately impacted.” While mainstream media keeps producing “incomplete, uncontextualized and blatantly racist” coverage, one minority community in the US has had enough. Spanish-language media and community orgs in Arizona launched a WhatsApp group, Conecta Arizona on 11th May to address the specific media needs of the state’s Spanish speakers, including recent migrants from Mexico. Feet in 2 Worlds, one of the orgs behind this crucial project, emphasise that “nearly one third of Arizona’s population is Hispanic, and for many, Spanish is their first language” but “information about the pandemic in Spanish is not available or is extremely difficult to find.”

Check out Conecta Arizona and Feet in 2 Worlds’ amazing work here.

4) Latvia Offers a Temporary Reprieve to Russian-language Media

Conecta Arizona is not alone in trying to reach linguistic minorities. BBC Russian Service highlights a surprising example – Latvia has paused its long-running legal battle against Russian-language television. After effectively banning Russian-language broadcasters from producing news earlier this year, Latvian authorities allowed ПБК [PBK] – one of the biggest Russian-language channels in the Baltic states, broadcasting out of Riga – to carry news from the Latvian state LTV7. The country’s media regulator admits that reaching its Russian-speaking stateless minority (12% to 20% of the population) and Russian-speaking citizens who do not watch or cannot understand Latvian-language television is key for an effective coronavirus response. Despite this change being temporary, it is a welcome reprieve for Russian-language media that boasts centuries of presence in the country.

5) The Owner of Daily Mail Loose 70% Revenue from Print Ads to the Pandemic

Last October, Get the Trolls Out (GTTO) – an MDI “campaign to combat discrimination and intolerance based on religious grounds in Europe” – named one British newspaper The Daily Mail as Troll of the Month. What earned it this title? The Daily Mail pushed a conspiracy theory “that hate crimes in Britain are a ‘great hoax’, providing no evidence, belittling the impact hate has on victims as well as the work of charities who support them.” One GTTO partner, Stop Funding Hate found an innovative solution to tackle hate in The Mail. Targeting what hurts the most, Stop Funding Hate asked companies directly to stop advertising in the newspaper. Lego, Virgin Media, and many others dropped The Mail.

But, nobody expected that a global health emergency will help. “The owner of the Daily Mail, the i and Metro said that print advertising revenues for its portfolio of titles plunged by 70% in April and May as the coronavirus lockdown hammered the newspaper industry” – reports The Guardian.

Unfortunately, the “immediate collapse in advertising revenue” has affected all media, not just The Mail. In an op-ed for The Atlantic, Steve Waldman co-founder of Report for America and Charles Sennott CEO of the Ground Truth Project call for government support and citizen mobilisation to save local and community media. Outlets like Conecta Arizona fulfil a crucial public service function, providing life-and-death information in a pandemic, but have been the first to go as local advertisers shut for good and donations dwindled.

Do you have a recent media diversity success story to celebrate? Tweet us @MDI_UK. We’d love to learn more about it, however big or small!