Roma on Media Target: Commerce vs Ethics


2020 07 02


Anthropologist, Roma culture researcher Aušra Simoniukštytė expressed her reaction to Andrius Tapinas’s, a journalist, TV talk show host (at Laisvės TV), writer and lecturer, report under title „Vilniaus taboras ir medžioklė lankais“ (eng. Vilnius Kirtimai Settlement and Bowhunting).

In his report, A. Tapinas stereotypically talks about irresponsible Roma whose children are not willing to go to school. To his point of view, Roma arrived to Lithuania recently and their community members are criminals.  He expresses his dissatisfaction with financial support measures the Lithuanian Government provides to Roma community. Moreover, he speculates about the outcomes after Kirtimai settlement liquidation, which will lead to drug sale in Vilnius centre. 

He unilaterally draws quite a negative and static collective picture of Roma community: Roma are dangerous layabouts, aliens, having nothing in common with Lithuanian society except criminal activity.  Mrs. Aušra Simoniukštytė noted that the journalist breaches the principles of ethical journalism, one of core principles in journalism to listen to another opinion, let us say the one of Kirtimai settlement residents. Mr. Tapinas entered an interview with „Sare Roma“ leader Ištvanas Kvik into his report in the way as if Mr. Kvik agrees with the journalist’s opinion. What would Ištvanas Kvikas say having watched the report? Will he be happy with such a biased manipulation of his words and opinion?

Laisvės TV show exploits Roma issue in attempt to increase its audience and encourage the audience to transfer a part of income tax. Lousy manoeuver by publicly attacking the one that everyone attacks guarantees popularity.

To sum up the report traditionally represents the discriminated other, or the Other, in a negative way. First, the journalist refuses to accept that the present situation of any social or ethnic minority is the outcome of relationship with majority. Second, social or ethnic minorities are not represented as an integral part of the society but in isolation; cultural differences are the essentials in attempt to present the national minority’s situation in the society; and finally, Roma minority is responsible for the arising problems itself.

Research show the negative outcome for Roma because of stereotypes and prejudice in media. There is no doubt that there are links between negative social attitude and representation of ethnic minorities in media (1).

Lithuanian Social Research Centre has been monitoring people’s attitudes towards ethnic minorities since 2005. The results show that Roma face social distancing and intolerance. This tendency stays practically unchanged until now (2). Most citizens have negative attitude towards Roma because of media messages even though they have not met or seen Roma. Roma face discrimination in housing, education, labour, and health care (3).

1. M. Frėjutė-Rakauskienė. Etninis nepakantumas Lietuvos spaudoje. – Etniškumo studijos, 2009:1, p. 45-50; M. Frėjutė-Rakauskienė, N. Klumbytė, A. Marcinkevičius, K. Šliavaitė. Socialinis ir istorinis teisingumas daugiaetninėje Lietuvos visuomenėje: sampratos, patirtys ir kontekstai. Lietuvos socialinių tyrimų centras, 2018, p. 27-32.

2. G. Blažytė, V. Pilinkaitė-Sotirovič, K. Žibas. Visuomenės nuostatos apie socialines ir etnines grupes Lietuvoje: nepakantumo ir socialinės distancijos stebėsena. – Lietuvos gyventojų grupių socialinė kaita. Lietuvos socialinių tyrimų centras, 2016, p.111.

3. Pilietinės visuomenės stebėsenos ataskaita dėl nacionalinės romų integracijos strategijos įgyvendinimo Lietuvoje Pažangos vertinimas keturiose strategijos pagrindinėse politikos srityse. 2018 m.; Sociologinio tyrimo „Romų tautybės asmenų padėtis lyginant su kitais šalies gyventojais“ ataskaita, 2015.

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