Media Diversity Institute recently led the first New Neighbours Media Skills Training for CSOs in Zagreb, Croatia.
New Neighbours is an European Broadcasters Union-led project designed to bring positive stories of refugees, migrants and assimilation to local and community media. Media Diversity Institute is supporting the project by training civil society actors to create campaigns and more effectively communicate with journalists and media organizations to spread constructive stories about migrants and refugees.
“There is a large disconnect between people working on sensitive issues, and journalists,” said MDI Social Media Campaigner Nika Jelendorf, who lead the training.
Many of the participants expressed frustration at how journalists they had interacted with were no longer interested in covering stories about refugees, or needed a particularly shocking or sensational story in order to see it as newsworthy—even with ongoing human rights abuses.
“The point of this workshop is to help people understand how and why this happens,” Jelendorf continued. “We want our participants to be able to get their message out, while giving the journalists what they need.”
Croatia is a particularly interesting place for this workshop, given its history during the Balkan wars, and strategic place along the refugee trail. While at the beginning of the current refugee crisis, Croatia was known for being very welcoming towards refugees, the past four years have seen a marked shift in attitudes, with disinformation about migration policies and fear-mongering towards refugees leading to a marked rise in hate crimes. Currently, refugees trying to cross the border get pushed back into Bosnia.
During the workshop, participants were able to brainstorm creative campaigns and initiatives to keep the conversation about migrants and refugees in the media, and combat the rise in negative media stereotypes by showcasing how refugees and migrants, or “new neighbours,” can be a positive addition to Croatian society.
“A few of the ideas have to do with building campaigns that make parallels between now and thirty years ago, when there were a lot of Croatian migrants and refugees,” Jelendorf shared.
“Some CSOs ran initiatives combing media advocacy with activities in order to bring refugees and locals together.”
Over the next few months, a few of the participants will have a chance to develop these ideas into campaigns. Media Diversity Institute will run similar workshops in Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Germany over the course of the project.
Follow the project on social media, #newneighbours. Check out the recently-launched website here.
Dates: 16-18 April 2019
Country: Zagreb, Croatia