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Experiences of Racism and strategies of empowerment

“We Do Something because We Think that It Is Important for Society and that We Should Be Heard”

Experiences of Racism and strategies of empowerment

How do journalists and media producers experience racism? Are community media an effective antidote to counter it? These questions were tackled by Prof Judith Purkarthofer, Esther Domke, and Özge Zar from the University of Duisburg-Essen and by Nadia Bellardi in a pilot study for the National Racism Monitoring (NaDiRa) of the DeZIM e.V. (Deutsches Zentrum für Integrations- und Migrationsforschung).

For their Racism Monitoring short study, they talked to young media makers between 25 and 35. They report on everyday racism, which is mostly based on origin and appearance and can sometimes be wrapped up in well-meaning questions. The findings indicate that creating your own productions for radio, TV or podcasts can be a means to become visible to mainstream media. However, free community media are also perceived as a bubble that functions differently from mainstream society. Such projects are mostly supported by voluntary and unpaid engagement. These networks and alliances strengthen individuals. They are innovative but often fragile and rarely sufficiently and sustainably funded.

The pilot study – Strategies of Recognition. Commu­nity Media as a Space for Potential Participation and Perspectives on Experiences with and Counter-Strategies to Racism – was one of 34 pilot studies of the National Racism Monitoring of the DeZIM, funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Racism is understood in this study as a practice based on hierarchical oppositional distinction and connected to the practical effects of this distinction. Community media are media that are independent, non-commercial, organised from the community, and directed to the community. Their aim is to enable citizens to take control over their own representation, produce media content that is representative of a diverse society, and raise issues often overlooked by commercial and large-scale public-service media.

The findings on agency and strategies of migrant media producers in Germany with a specific focus on experiences with racism, visibility of marginalised voices and negotiations of belonging in alternative spaces are now available in the NaDiRa working paper (in German) Strategien der Sichtbarkeit and were developed further in an article (in English) for COMUNICAZIONI SOCIALI - 2022 - 1. MIGRATIONS / MEDIATIONS Promoting Transcultural Dialogue through Media, Arts and Culture (edited by Pierluigi Musarò, Nikos Papastergiadis and Laura Peja). The article also highlights that community media can act as catalysts for (multi)media initiatives and projects led by migrants and refugees. Several refugee journalists are currently working in community radios, hoping to later continue a professional career. Research projects in Switzerland and Austria further showed that regardless of whether they later pursued a ‘professional’ media career, migrants have been able to engage on equal terms in society and improve their professional and social integration skills thanks to their work in community radio.

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