Journalists and the Media need improvement, according to Bulgarian Roma students

by Ognyan Isaev

Between August 2010 and February 2011, a group of ten Bulgarian Roma students monitored ten national and local newspapers and electronic media outlets and analysed the way these write about Roma. They subsequently presented their report and main findings in September and October at public events in Varna, Plovdiv, Blavgoevgrad and Sofia.

The report, which was written under the supervision of the sociologist Ilona Tomova of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, recommends that greater respect for the media's ethical codes, and specific standards for reporting on minorities and ethnic issues should be implemented.

During their presentations held in the above-mentioned cites, the students have participated in TV and radio talk shows. You can watch and listen to some of them by clicking on the cities (in Bulgarian) - Blagoevgrad, Varna,Sofia(TV) and Sofia (radio). 

The Media Monitoring report compiled the conclusions of the young Roma students.

1. Intolerat attitudes within media texts dealing with Roma-related issues. Because of that, hatred, rejection and lack of acceptance become mutual between the majority and the minority.

2. Endorsed stereotypes about the Roma community. The Roma are presented as a threat and a burden on society and the words „Roma” and „Gypsies” bear a negative meaning and consequences.

3. A lack of alternative points of view. A superficial look at Roma-related issues and not a serious analysis or argumentation of a viewpoint. Irony and ridicule accompany most of the texts.


1. Most Roma live with a sense of isolation and rejection from Bulgarian society. They are approached as aliens in the public domain, which leads to a lack of awareness of what citizenship entails (rights and obligations).

2. The society is divided. The ghettos are autonomous territories outside the rule of law, where human and civil rights are violated on a daily basis. On the other hand, most of Bulgarian society does not want to have contact with Roma, which in turn reject their affiliation with Bulgarian society.

3. A number of Roma internalize the feeling of collective guilt and this causes changes in the behavior of the integrated Roma as well – fear, shame and the denial of their origin. Thus these people suppress their identity when they are in a public space and live in costant stress as a result.

Call toward the media:

1. To be proffesional, to respect the ethical code of the media. There is a need for specific standards to be developped by the journalists and the media covering minorities.

2. To act with respect towards the personal dignity and to analyze in greater detail Roma-related topics.

3. To be more tolerant and show more solidarity in their texts regardless of the social groups they are dealing with.

Published at RomaTransitions


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