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Czech News Agency produces biased, stereotyping report about Janov housing estate

25.3.2015 20:51, (ROMEA)

In its 24 March report about the events around the Janov housing estate in Litvínov, the Czech News Agency, an independent public wire service, has committed some serious infractions against the "objective" reporting that is its mission under the law. The criticism levied by media analyses showing that Romani people ("inadaptables") are depicted stereotypically by the Czech media applies to this wire service  to a great extent.

It is evident that the case of Janov is primarily about Romani people, irrespective of the media's inflated use of the term "inadaptable" to refer to them, and irrespective of the argument that no one is talking about Roma in this case. One of the biased, stereotyping methods that media outlets use, according to analyses, is to identify with the view of the majority, to present critical quotes about Romani people from local politicians or publicly active persons without presenting any counter-opinions, and without quoting the Roma ("inadaptables") themselves.  

The Czech News Agency (ČTK) quotes the chair of the Krušnohor apartment cooperative, František Ryba, who is bheind a petition sent by some inhabitants of Janov to the Czech Prime Minister, as follows:   "From the Prime Minister's answer it is obvious that he does not understand at all what this is about and how dramatic the situation at Janov is. Bohuslav Sobotka is once again talking about social programs and other programs, about strategies and the visions flowing from those strategies. From our own experience, however, we know that programs and strategies don't apply to inadaptables, they don't get involved in them, they don't care about them. They will continue to ravage their own apartments and the apartment buildings and to commit crime."

Moreover, ČTK uses the term "inadaptable" without quotation marks - not just inside Ryba's quote, but also in the sentence before it. The article offers no other perspective on this matter.  

On the contrary, the overall image is supported by quoting a "representative of one of the buildings", who talks about how garbage is accumulating in the apartments and the apartments are partially burned out. Of course, we do not learn how many apartments this concerns, how large a section of the housing estate has been afflicted, or who is responsible for this.

Janov, according to ČTK, looks something like this:  A group of inadaptables lives there. This term designates an actual group of residents, not a media phrase that should be put into quotation marks.

This group, according to the wire service, doesn't care about social programs or other programs, ravages apartments and apartment buildings, and commits crime. It also reports the claim that rats are living at the housing estate with these people - so it's no surprise that no one else wants to live with them either.

There is no doubt that there are big problems at the Janov housing estate. The same goes for other ghettos around the country.

Doesn't someone have at least a bit of a different perspective on this matter than Ryba, though? Is it impossible for this wire service to find such a person to interview?

Michal Komárek, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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