BIRN Bulgaria Praised for Minority Reporting Workshop

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BIRN Bulgaria has successfully completed the first phase of its
three-month long Reporting on Minorities project. The main event was a
three-day workshop which took place May 8-10 in Sofia. The six Bulgarian
journalists from national, regional and ethnic media who participated gave
the workshop positive feedback and found it very useful and interesting.

During the event, the journalists met Andrew Lam, a writer and editor of New America Media – the largest national online collaboration of ethnic news organisations in the US. Lam discussed the different aspects of the ethnic minorities’ development in the US and the role of mainstream and minority media.

"Even though [his presentation] concerned completely different regions in the world, the process of the establishment of ethnic media [in the US] can serve as a showcase and a source from which to learn when considering the situation in Bulgaria," said participant Beynur Suleyman, a reporter at Zaman weekly.

BIRN Bulgaria Director Albena Shkodrova presented a case study of the way Bulgarian mainstream media dealt with a controversial historical project in the last few weeks, outlining positive and negative practices. Another workshop presentation, by RFE/RL journalist and writer Tatyana Vaksberg, focused on the role played by the media during the Rwandan genocide and the war in former Yugoslavia. Lastly, oriental scholar Velin Belev offered some background on the history of Islam and discussed the different Muslim communities that currently reside in Bulgaria.

The workshop was "very useful. For three days I learned as much as one learns in the course of years on these specific issues. It will directly reflect in my work. Above all, [it motivated me] to learn with maximum tolerance and desire about other ethnic groups," said participant Iskra Sotirova, a correspondent with the daily 24 chassa.