Code of Ethics for the Portrayal of Minorities in the Media: A Success Story from Slovakia
We celebrate the remarkable achievements of our member organisation, the Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (RARC) in Slovakia. RARC, in collaboration with the civic association eduRoma, has introduced a groundbreaking initiative – the “Code of Ethics for the Portrayal of Minorities in the Media” – which has the potential to serve as a model for other European countries.
The Code of Minority Portrayal, developed in response to media outlets that have too often portrayed minorities insensitively, was the result of a collaborative effort during the Minority Journalism Academy, held on October 11 and 12, 2023. The Roma Advocacy and Research Centre spearheaded this initiative as part of the National Roma Coalition project.
Zuzana Havírová, the chair of the organisation, which addresses issues such as combating antigypsyism, emphasised the pivotal role of the media in shaping public perceptions. She stated, “The media plays an irreplaceable role in our society, and it turns out that it is extremely important how they reach out to the public. We often come across stories that are unjust towards minority communities, such as the Roma or LGBTI+ people. Sometimes, the media may not even know that their stories may harm a minority, so we agreed that it is necessary to have basic principles for portraying minorities in the media. This document is open for discussion, and we hope to expand it with further suggestions. It can make us more respectful and tolerant of each other.”
The Minority Journalism Academy, an educational venture by the online magazine Romano Forum, published by the civic association eduRoma, is at the heart of this transformative movement. Vlado Rafael of eduRoma explained: “The Minority Journalism Academy aims to provide journalists, bloggers, journalism students, columnists, and those who shape national public discourse basic information about the position of different minorities living in Slovakia. One of our primary goals is to improve the overall perception of minorities in our country. As a result of the first year of our academy, we have produced a draft code of ethics for portraying minorities in the Slovak media. We intend to engage with journalists to refine and expand this code, hoping media outlets will gradually adopt and adhere to its principles.”
In the forthcoming period, methodological material will be developed to explain each aspect of the Code in greater detail. This initiative aspires to see the code embraced by as many media outlets as possible. This initiative aims to gradually develop a code that will be adopted by as many media as possible, so that the media’s portrayal of minorities is fair, sensitive and objective at the same time.
ERGO Network is proud to have dedicated members like RARC, who are actively contributing to the cause of promoting ethical and inclusive media portrayals of minorities. We hope to witness more such success stories within our member countries, furthering our mission to foster understanding, respect, and equality for all.