Media landscapes: Is a national minority communication agenda possible?
Most stateless nations have their own distinct language, different from the official state language, and many of them also find themselves in a minority situation. Political and social movements of stateless nations face a double communication challenge in the dissemination of their vision and aims for the wider society. Ezkerraberri fundazioa, Centre Maurits Coppieters and the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament organised a one day event with journalists, decision makers, academics and Media practitioners to address the issue of how to build an own and genuine Media landscape.
Günther Rautz, Secretary General of MIDAS, The European Association of Daily Newspapers in Minority and Regional Languages gave the inaugural speech. He pointed out the main challenges of minority journalism, including the demographic challenge whereby some minorities have small and ageing populations. To overcome this, it is critical for minority media to target younger audiences. To that end, it is important to invest in technology and to explore new platforms and means of expression beyond the written press. Training for minority journalists on the use of minority languages and new technologies is becoming increasingly important. With enough public resources – funding, grants and subsidies – for technology, equipment and training, media outlets can start to change negative misconceptions and prejudices about minorities in Europe.
Edorta Arana, from the University of the Basque Country, reinforces a similar idea. Stateless nations, minorities and peripheral regions need their own media landscape in order to depict their distinct reality and tell their specific story. To create their own communication space through news on current affairs, documentaries and entertainment, Arana claims that cultural groups need to develop their own content and specific media structures to be able to effectively create a compelling narrative.
Social media researcher, Rocio Castro, believes that both the internet and social media gives minorities tools to create new platforms and messages without relying on a single source. Since we have all become so-called message “senders”, all citizens, but especially minority communities, can use this to empower themselves, their countries, their communities and their languages, regardless of their size. Communities need to take advantage of new technologies, which can help them challenge bigger media corporations with fewer costs and restrictions.
Pilar Kaltzada underlined the same idea: we are undergoing huge technological and societal transformations, which we need to understand in order to develop sound media landscapes. Changes in social media, digital media and traditional media are challenging, because they happen constantly and at a very rapid pace. Since we have not been able to address these changes effectively, we are encountering a triple crises: a crisis of media legitimacy, a crisis of the media business model and a crisis of new and unregulated communication arenas, like social media platforms.
Multilingual societies not only face the challenge of adapting to new technological developments, they also face pressures from de facto power structures that hinder their normal development. For example, Jordi Sebastia points out that in bilingual societies only those individuals who speak the minority language are actually bilingual.
Additionally, Germa Capdevila, President of APEC – Association of Periodical Magazines of Catalonia, exposes how even in 21st century Europe, minority languages and communities are sometimes censored in the most brutal way, contravening the principle of freedom of expression, information and the press. He called on EU institutions to abandon their double standards and truly defend the values on which the EU is founded, even if this standing up to an undemocratic policy of a member state.
As minority language media continues to evolve with technology, less dominant cultural groups and minorities still face disproportionate challenges and obstacles that require a common solution and innovative local strategies.
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This conference was financially supported by the European Parliament. The European Parliament is not liable for the content of the conference or the opinions of the speakers.