Bulgarian media routinely paint a biased image of Roma

7 October 2011

Between February and August 2011 – a group of seven Bulgarian Roma students monitored ten national and local newspapers and electronic media outlets and analysed the way they write about Roma. This week and last week they presented their report and main findings at public events in Plovdiv, Blavgoevgrad and Sofia. “Roma are presented as foreigners, as people who do not belong in Bulgarian society. There is no serious social analysis and reporting regularly mocks Roma as funny characters," says project coordinator Ognyan Isaev.

The report, which was written under supervision of sociologist Ilona Tomova of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, recommends that media need to better respect their own ethical codes, but also that specific standards for reporting on minorities and ethnic issues be developed. On Thursday 6 October, Ognyan Isaev and Anelia Kostova were received in Milen Tsvetkov’s debate programme on Nova TV to present the findings

The research shows a grim picture of how Roma are portrayed in Bulgarian media. The main findings are:

 - Media texts generally present an intolerant attitude regarding the situation of Roma and evoke hatred, rejection and non-acceptance, from majority toward minority and vice versa.
 - Media routinely endorse stereotypes about the Roma community. The Roma are presented as threat and burden on society and the words „Roma” and „Gypsies” are associated with negative meanings or circumstances.
 - There is a general lack of serious analysis of the background of the position of Roma; the overall situation or context is not presented when Roma issues are reported on. Different points of view are not presented. Irony and ridicule routinely accompany the texts.

The media monitoring was carried out as part of the “Thank You, Mayor”- campaign, conducted by Integro Association in partnership with 14 NGOs across Bulgaria. A group of seven young Roma professionals and students conducted the research under mentorship of Ilona Tomova.

The report is available here (in Bulgarian). It will be available in English translation at the end of October 2011.

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