Editors discuss reporting ethnicity

Budapest – “The news media in Hungary regularly depicts disadvantaged groups in a stereotyped and prejudiced context, although the number of flagrant cases is rather low” – said lawyer Bea Bodrogi of CivilMedia, a monitoring and legal defence NGO at the roundtable discussion co-organized by the Center for Independent Journalism, the Goethe Institute Budapest and the Hungarian Editors’ Forum.

She added that her organization filed four complaints related to prejudiced and stereotyped portrayal of the Roma community to the Media Council, but all of them were rejected on various grounds.

More than 50 media professionals, NGO activists, legal experts and researchers attended the discussions in Budapest on the ethical dilemmas of journalists and editors face when reporting on ethnicity and religion.

The event was a part of the project ’Civil Society & the Media Working Together to Fight Ethnic and Religious Discrimination in the EU’, implemented by the Media Diversity Institute (MDI) with partners, including the Center for Independent Journalism, Budapest. The project is co-funded by the Open Society Foundations.

The roundtable discussion in Budapest gathered a group of international media professionals, lawyers and regulators from Hungary, Germany and Austria. This allowed a comparison of journalism practices in these countries.

Balazs Jó of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority made a presentation on the recent monitoring study of diversity in Hungarian news media. Mária Baranyi discussed her experiences as a reporter of Roma origin at the Hungarian Radio and the way she reports on social issues, Gabor Gyulai described Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s guide for journalists covering migration; and Gergely Szilvay analyzed the Hungarian media’s portrayal of topics related to the Catholic church. There were discussions about complaints procedures in media.

Ilona Moricz of the Center for Independent Journalism introduced the study “Reporting ethnicity and religion” by Ethical Journalism Initiative and the Hungarian translation of its recommendations at the event. Balazs Weyer, president of the self-regulatory Hungarian Editors’ Forum said: “We (the Forum) thought that general rules of accurate and fair reporting should be a sufficient guide to ethical reporting on these topics”. He added the forum may need to consider issuing specific, detailed recommendations on reporting ethnic topics.