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14.06.2007

The Press are overcoming ethnic stereotypes

   

This was the conclusion reached by participants in a roundtable on the role of the media in overcoming negative ethnic stereotypes in a border area. The discussion took place on 12 June in Chernivtsi, the capital of Bukovyna and an area where many nationalities live side by side.

Bukovyna officials, leading scholars, press representatives, as well as the Romanian Consul General in Chernivtsi R. Sandulescu and deputies from the Botoshansky District in Romania discussed how negative stereotypes are formed and the role that the media plays in this.

Regional officials commented that recently regional publications in the press touching on ethnic issues had become more objective and well-founded. They warned, however, of continuing negative features where journalists express opinions and judgments in an inappropriate way. For example, Ukrainian language and Romanian language regional newspapers quite often resort to aggressive polemics on issues of ethnic minorities without suggesting any ways of resolving them.

Mr Sandeluscu stressed that Bukovyna is a model of European co-existence of different ethnic groups. He said that the low professional level of journalists and their material was a shared problem.

A well-known political analyst I. Burkurt pointed out that in homogenous ethnic communities stereotypes are formed on the basis of emotions and gossip, rather than actual experience. Historically it had been the case that the older generation was distrustful of their Romanian neighbours, while younger people were less affected by such stereotypes. During Soviet times these stereotypes had been espoused at an official level, and the sources of this prejudice still remained.

Among suggestions put forward were for the media to give coverage to the different ethnic minorities in the regions, to create joint Ukrainian-Romanian publications, etc.

Nadiya Virna  (abridged)

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