News media reinforce stereotypes of Roma people
One of the roles of the media is to educate the populace. People obtain a great deal of information through the media. You can learn languages, cooking from great chefs, and fitness tips from celebrities. You can learn quite a lot about other people from the media – how they behave, how they live. The danger in taking in so much information is that you can get caught in the net of stereotyped representations of some groups of people.
People from Roma non-profit organizations are well aware of the educational role the media can have. In order to counteract prevailing prejudices they try to push as much information about Roma culture, education and daily life into radio and TV programs and newspapers as possible. Some of them are puzzled about the reflection of Roma in the media.
“Media should transfer complete information. But for the media it is more attractive to write about things that are negative. What does the media write about? About a young Roma girl who won Taekwondo World Championships or about Romas in Vsetín who damaged a house? There should be both of them, according to my opinion,” says Zdeněk Horváth, executive director of Athinganoi, a Roma non-profit organization that tries to help Roma people with their studies.
“I think 90 percent of Czech people create their opinion of the world according to the media coverage of events. So I ask myself if my job is really important. I´ll do four good programs that will help 100 people, but then I come home and watch Romas presented as bad people,” adds Horváth.
All-Roma media sources such as Romano voďi or Romea TV place emphasis on their educational role. They inform the public about famous Roma people, both historical and contemporary, They introduce readers to Roma culture and report in the Roma language in order to support its use.
It is important to have Roma journalists in nationwide media, and they must be well-educated. That´s why non-profit organizations like Dženo or Romea organize courses especially for young Romas who want to be journalists. “The product“ of one of them is Richard Samko, the second Roma to rise to an anchor job on Czech TV and also a reporter for the weekly “O Roma Vakeren“ which is broadcast on Czech Radio 1.
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