Community Assembly

The final event of the project gathered over two hundred people, shared the outputs and learning from the pilot with representatives of public, commercial and independent media from across Europe, journalists, experts in migration and inclusion, media & fake news analysts. The project Re:Framing Migrants in the European Media has brought together mediamakers with a migrant background to develop tools and new forms of media that challenge inequalities in the media sphere. The project has launched a magazine called “SHIFT! Actions for Migrating Perspectives” and invited journalists, mediamakers, and media activists to join a community assembly to share experiences and initiatives, participate in interactive breakout sessions, TikTok challenge, anti-racist meme battle, and learn from the first decolonized newsroom’s hands-on experiences. Migrants in Europe are takin

Mainstream media’s reporting on migration does not do justice to the lived reality of migrants in Europe. Migrant communities and individuals across Europe, therefore, have started their own media-initiatives, reclaiming their rights to self-representation -rather than being sidelined as subjects of the public debate. In the past year, the project Re:Framing migrants in European media has brought together a group of mediamakers with a migrant background. Together they have developed tools and new forms of media that challenge inequalities in the media sphere.

During this final event, a broader group of (inter)national journalists, mediamakers and media-activists came together for the launch of the project’s magazine “SHIFT! Actions for Migrating Perspectives”. Several people joined our community assembly, shared experiences and initiatives in interactive breakout sessions, danced in a TikTok challenge, took part in ‘the anti-racist meme battle’ and learned from the hands-on experiences of the first decolonised newsroom.

The closing event of the Re:Framing Migrants in European Media project, the Community Assembly, organised by the project’s partner organisation Here to Support, brought together a diverse group of talented media makers with migrant backgrounds at Pakhuis De Zwijger on May 11 and 12. Over the past few months, this group has tirelessly worked to challenge the inequalities prevalent in our media sphere, striving to provide a platform for self-representation and inclusion, rather than being sidelined as subjects of public debate. The pinnacle of the group’s efforts was the launch of a groundbreaking magazine called “SHIFT! Actions for Migrating Perspectives.”

The launch event, which took place on May 11&12, was a vibrant gathering where international journalists, media makers, and media activists united. It served as a platform for a community assembly, fostering interactive breakout sessions where participants shared their experiences, initiatives, and insights. The highlight of the evening was an exhilarating “anti-racist meme battle,” providing a creative and engaging way to challenge existing narratives. Additionally, attendees had the opportunity to learn from the hands-on experiences of the pioneers behind the first decolonized newsroom.

“SHIFT!” magazine, the brainchild of this collective effort, acknowledges the alarming reality faced by journalists with migrant backgrounds in Europe. These remarkable individuals have experienced discrimination and exclusion within mainstream media, leading them to establish independent initiatives and platforms. Through the magazine, they aim to share best practices for creating inclusive newsrooms that authentically represent the diversity and experiences of migrant communities.

The pages of “SHIFT!” featured inspiring examples of migrant-led media initiatives, highlighting the exceptional work that paved the way for a new media space in Europe. These initiatives enabled migrants and their communities to reclaim their narratives, providing safe spaces that fostered inclusivity and challenged racist narratives. By amplifying diverse voices, our friends promoted understanding and shifted the conversation on migration.

It was important to acknowledge that this journey hadn’t been without challenges. Migrant media makers had to overcome financial constraints and establish sustainable models for their work. They prioritised their mental and emotional well-being while reframing and challenging deeply ingrained prejudices. “SHIFT!” magazine explored the innovative solutions and practices that this new generation of media makers had experimented with in their day-to-day work. Furthermore, it sparked conversations on how foundations could offer more sustainable support to these emerging media platforms.

During the event, attendees had the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions that explored crucial aspects of the media landscape. One session focused on the power of collaboration across sectors, where journalists, activists, and artists came together to amplify their impact through shared methodologies. Another session delved into the importance of language and image use, recognising their profound influence on shaping narratives. Finally, a session empowered individuals to take the media into their own hands, celebrating the stories and platforms created by refugees and migrants themselves.

The creation of “SHIFT!” magazine was an incredible journey that culminated in a pop-up editorial event called the “Decolonized Newsroom.” Held in Amsterdam, it provided our content team with the opportunity to work closely together, reflecting on their unique approaches. The magazine built upon the network established during the “Decolonizing the Newsroom” event that took place in Madrid last summer and the research conducted by Eticas.

In the magazine SHIFT: Actions for migrating perspectives and during this assembly, many inspiring examples of practices within migrant-led (new) media were featured and highlighted. They were able to create their own safe space and platforms for themselves and their communities’ stories, paving the way for a new media space in Europe together with many other media makers.

But all that glitters is not gold. The communities had to become creative to overcome financial constraints, build sustainable models for their work. They had to stay healthy in this, sometimes draining process of reframing and challenging racist narratives. What were those creative solutions and practices that a new generation of media makers were experimenting with and implementing in their day-to-day work?

Sustainability went beyond the financial matters of a platform but went hand in hand with the mental stability of the makers. While we zoomed into several financial models that were being used for podcast making specifically, we didn’t forget about other factors of sustainability. Together we discussed the questions of mental well-being and self-care. As fighting the cause of anti-racism and harmful stereotypes could be a daunting task, we asked the question of what kind of practices several media makers had implemented into their day-to-day work to keep the work sustainable and fun.

There was no challenging and reframing the narrative of migration without challenging and reframing our language and image use. With the many languages spoken in Europe, local language cultures and behaviour differed enormously. What was perceived as ‘woke’ in one language might be problematic in another language culture. Language was how we described the world around us, how we got a grip and shaped narratives. It was crucial for the human understanding of concepts and thus also one of the most powerful tools for change.

But words were not alone. Images shaped our imagination and understanding just as much. What happened when we were faced with new images showing people in different activities, circumstances, jobs, or clothes than we would imagine them from our presumptions or given descriptions.

This was a circle of deep inspiration on the practices of people who were paving the way in changing and challenging the language and image use in Europe’s media space. We were not looking into alternatives; we were looking into the future of decolonial and fair representation of migrants in European media.

Every day the mainstream media covered the places of arrival for refugees at the borders of Europe. But this framing was mainly made by journalists who just came in as reporters and left again. What would change in the framing of migration if refugees were reported directly from the camps and these places of arrival?

Self-representation was one of the most important instruments in the process of reframing the narratives around migration in European media. Because stories told from a human angle had the power to change a narrative. How better to achieve this human angle than with stories told from lived experience and with self-representation.

Though as People of Colour, refugees, and people with a migrant background in Europe faced barriers to enter the mainstream media, they had found their own tools, instruments, and platforms to both practise direct reporting as well as learn from each other about how to document their lives and take the media into their own hands.

By providing the knowledge and skills to new migrants and refugees, new generations were enabled to let their voices be heard, amplified, and get the stories out.During this session, we dived into three examples of refugees and migrants becoming storytellers and creating their own platforms and media outlets. They were courageous enough to take the audiences along on their journey full of violence, racism, and bureaucratic opposition.

About the magazine

The magazine “SHIFT! Actions for Migrating Perspectives” acknowledged the alarming reality of journalists with migrant backgrounds in Europe. Many had experienced discrimination and exclusion within mainstream media, causing the need for independent initiatives and platforms. These initiatives provided best practices for creating inclusive newsrooms representing radicalised and marginalised communities. These best practices included selecting topics that encompassed the diversity of migrant communities and encouraging the inclusive representation of diverse communities in reporting. The people and initiatives highlighted in the magazine had distinguished themselves through their independent reporting on asylum, immigration, and media issues.

The magazine was made in three weeks in Amsterdam, in a pop-up editorial event ‘Decolonised newsroom’ organised by Here to Support and Unbias the News, which enabled the content team to work in person. The editorial team consisted of members of communities in Europe, reflecting on their own approaches. It builds upon the network of Decolonising the Newsroom, a community event coordinated by ZEMOS98 and Conciencia Afro in Madrid in July 2022, and the research by Eticas.

The Magazine is financially supported by Fonds Democratie en Media, European Cultural Foundation and the European Commission and will be distributed for free at the event on May 12.

About the project

Re:framing Migrants in the European Media is a pilot project aiming to change current media narratives by assuring appropriate media representation of migrant and refugee communities across Europe. Through an inclusive and empowering manner, providing for a space of self-representation for migrants and refugees.

The visibility of migrants and refugees in the public sphere is almost always peripheral. Migrants and refugees are devoid of agency and are side-lined into playing a symbolic role in media narratives around them in Europe. Several “migrant crises” have revealed the importance of an inclusive European media space in which newcomers can engage as participants, rather than subjects of public debate. But refugees and other migrants who came to Europe in the past decade frequently ended up being portrayed as one-dimensional characters, as “others” on a simplistic binary of perpetrators and victims. Their own stories, perspectives and opinions, as multi-faceted person’s dreams, fears, friends and family are rarely shared.

The project Re:framing Migrants in the European Media is a pilot project, co-funded by the European Union. The European Cultural Foundation is leading a consortium of five European organisations under this programme and this project supports the development of a European public sphere, inclusive to the perspectives of refugees and migrants. It was launched in February 2022.

Illustration by Vivian Mule