The inter-federal centre for equal opportunity is taking advantage of the upcoming international Roma day (April 8th) to organise several meetings between journalists and Roma representatives. The aim is to question the “negative stereotypes” spread by the press, which “seriously affect the image of this little-known community,” explains the centre in a press release on Thursday. A first round table took place with European journalists in November, and a second one took place in Ghent on Wednesday. Others are scheduled in Brussels, Charleroi, and Antwerp, in coming weeks.
These meetings follow internal research by the inter-federal centre for equal opportunity last year. From early July to the end of September 2014 (at the time of the discussion over trailers kicked out of Landen with noise machines, editor’s note), 74 articles about the Roma and traveller communities were published in the main national newspapers: 57 in Flemish and 17 in French.
Of these 74, 48 (including 10 in French) “used derogatory words” and 31 “mentioned disturbances and criminal acts,” regret the organisation. “Only 9 articles offered the Roma and travellers point of view. And only 2 articles gave everyone involved a voice by mentioning the opinion of both Roma and travellers. In fact, Roma and travellers are seldom differentiated,” notes the independent inter-federal public organisation.
Patrick Charlier, co-director of the centre, would like journalists to be more responsible. “We seldom like what we don’t know much about,” he reckons. “We are hoping to shed light on everyone’s fears with these meetings, and that trust will lead to cooperation in the future.”