It’s a fairly basic thought, but one worth re-visiting… the faces we see on TV, the events covered in the news, the information brought to us through the various media sources, have a particular slant.
While it is easy to grow accustomed to tuning out when familiar topics reach us again and again, we live in an age where same-old, same-old is not good enough anymore.
In particular, the proliferation of free digital tools and the near-instant, rapid share of information via social networking platforms, means that we are now being exposed to the images and rights of people who had traditionally been disenfranchised, and whose presence is still under-represented by mainstream media.
One European network dedicated to tackling lack of social and cultural diversity in sports media coverage, is MARS – Media Against Racism in Sport. MARS is supported by a consortium of high-profile actors, which include the Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE) and the International Federation of Journalists.
(Incidentally, the CMFE held a three-day conference in Nicosia last November, under the auspices of the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC), at which MARS was also a participant. If you’d like to read about the highlights, you can access them in this post and its follow-up.)
Mars, as a joint EU-Council of Europe programme, chooses to focus on sport because it is both an important area for building social cohesion and a major sector of investment in the media industry.
Some figures to put this into context: only five per cent of press articles cover cultural and social aspects of sport; 40 per cent of all sport articles refer to only one source and 20 per cent refer to no sources at all.
Meanwhile, female athletes have four times more chances to be covered by a female journalist rather than a male one, but less than five per cent of sport news and stories are produced by female journalists.
Given the genuine need to tackle such a dearth of diversity in sports media coverage therefore, MARS and the CCMC will be holding a National Media Encounter over the period January 25-28.
The objective of the four-day event is to offer local media professionals (journalism students, reporters, media managers and so forth) exposure to media cross-practices in training, ethics and production, thereby fostering an inclusive approach to media content creation.
Looking ahead, CCMC’s Michalis Simopoulos noted that: “one of CCMC’s aims is the promotion of intercultural dialogue through the mass media and to promote the principle of non-discrimination.
“The mass media are capable of shaping public opinion on issues such as racism and diversity and for this reason they are in a position to suggest potential solutions for the promotion of mutual understanding and tolerance.
“UEFA‘s backing of the MARS programme indicates just how timely it is. Issues of racism in sport have been very prevalent in recent months and therefore we hope the MARS programme can further engage Cypriot journalists in discussions around these issues.”
The full details and schedule for the National Media Encounter can be found here. Pre-registration for all eligible parties is until January 12.
That’s all for the moment. Peace Exchange will be back with more good stuff soon, so stay tuned and… see you in the next post!