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For more diversity in the media

How the ‘New German Media Professionals’ are campaigning to recruit more media professionals from immigrant families to work in editorial offices.

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There should be more journalists and editors with a migration background in Germany, says Sheila Mysorekar, chair of the New German Media Professionals (NdM) association, which was founded in 2008. 1,250 media professionals in the NdM are campaigning in the meantime for more diversity in the media and in public discourse.

Ms Mysorekar, your association is calling for more diversity in reporting. Why is the issue important?

It’s all about equal opportunities and social cohesion, especially in view of increasing polarization. A growing group of people feel under-represented in the media. Minorities with a migrant background often only appear in negative reports.

The media don’t report enough about structural discrimination – or about things that work well in daily interaction. One-sided reporting strengthens prejudices.

Sheila Mysorekar
Sheila Mysorekar © Thomas Lobenwein

Public awareness of this problem is growing, as evidenced by the NdM’s rapidly growing membership. What are the reasons?

A quarter of the population in Germany has a migration background. More and more people with non-German names are having a say on different levels. Private media and public broadcasters are increasingly recognizing that reporting needs to become more diverse. But the print media are being too slow to adapt. Yet they could reach new reader groups if they were more diverse.

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Diverse prospects instead of one-sided reporting
Diverse prospects instead of one-sided reporting © dpa

German TV stations and newspapers do have quite a few prominent journalists from immigrant families. Even so, their overall share is estimated at only five percent. Why do so few media professionals come from immigrant families?

People from working-class families, which is where most migrants come from, rarely make it into media professions in Germany. This is where our mentoring programme comes in: renowned colleagues help young journalists to gain a foothold. We also talk to training departments in the media about the benefits of diversity and offer media training courses for organizations.

How else do the NdMs promote change?

Talk shows, for example, repeatedly feature the same, usually white German experts. Many editors say they simply lack other contacts. In our ‘Diversity Finder’ database, journalists can now find experts from immigrant families on many topics. We have also created a glossary on value-free reporting with recommendations for editors.

Your association also initiated the ‘No Hate Speech Movement Germany’ in 2016. Why was that necessary?

There is a lack of solidarity with the victims. In addition, more political analysis is needed on how to limit hate comments and prosecute the perpetrators. We want to raise awareness of the terrible consequences such comments can have and offer the victims ways of dealing with insults. If you can write, you can defend yourself. That’s our opinion. And if you no longer have any more strength, you can download phrases, memes and videos for support under ‘Counter Speech’ on our website.

Projects of the New German Media Professionals:

Interviewer: Nicole Sagener



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