On 10 June 2020, JUSTROM3 Romania and the Ecological University of Bucharest, delivered a second webinar as a follow-up to the first online course and debate that took place on 7 May 2020, on the topic of 'Non-discrimination and Responsible Journalism'. Based on the positive feedback received after the first webinar and at the request of the receptive students wiling to learn and debate core issues covered by JUSTROM, the Romanian consultants identified further key-topics to be explored more in depth: the importance of recognising the racial character of the term ‘ţigan’ and the mainstreaming of the correct term ‘Roma’, the legal tools available for combating discrimination, and ethical approaches to mass-media.
The webinar was attended by 22 students from the Faculty of Communication Sciences, and staff members of the university, Ms Janina Mihaila, Pro-Rector of the Ecological University of Bucharest, Ms Elena Banciu, Dean of the Faculty of of Communication Sciences, and several professors among which, Ms Daniela Caravan, Mr Flavius Pana and Ms Iulia Anghel.
Three guest-speakers with expertise in the field were invited to deliver presentations during the websinar: Mr Csaba Asztalos, President of the National Council on Combating Discrimination, Ms Delia Grigore, President of the Amare Rromentza Roma Center Association and PhD University Lecturer at the Faculty of Languages and Literatures, University of Bucharest, and Mr George Lacatus, Investigation journalist.
The course started with a brief introduction by the Dean of the Faculty of Communication Science, addressing the importance of building bridges in light of the recent rise in inter-ethnic tension. The first guest-speaker, the President of the National Council for Combating Discrimination, presented the institution’s portfolio and jurisprudence over the pandemic period (roughly April-May 2020), and explained different legal reasonings adressing the issue of hate speech and discrimination. The guest-speaker, Ms Delia Grigore, brought clarity to the issue of ‘Roma versus țigan (roughly translated to gypsy, but without the additional historical load that renders this term a racial slur in Romania)’. She walked the participants through the etymology of both words, explained the historical baggage attached to them, and made a plea for the mainstreaming of the use of ‘Roma’ to both identify and self-identify people belonging to this ethnic group. Moreover, the third speaker addressed the events of the past months through the lens of a Roma journalist, constantly fighting to change the dominant (racist) narrative surfacing in the news. He talked about ethics in mass-media from a practical perspective by presenting different cases that made the news in the past months and analysing the legitimacy of the approach taken by the journalists behind them.
The online lecture was concluded by a Q&A session which brought about very interesting topics for debate, such as the role of education in rooting the anti-discrimination cause and whether there is a need for more specific anti-discrimination legislation or whether the issue is lack of implementation of the existing one.