Episode 8, Series 2:  Are we chilling in Orwell’s 1984?  Media, migration & identity with Melis Omalar

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For Episode Eight of the EarthRights PodcastPippa and Mel are in conversation with Melis Omalar, journalist at Guiti News (an independent news outlet that focuses on migration) and communications assistant at the International Rescue Committee.

Identity is so complex – there are so many different aspects to each person’s live. Melis shares with us her experience living in Berlin, Germany as a Turkish-German. She has often felt ‘othered’ – German people often pre-judge Turk-Germans and. A lot of tension in recent years has revolved around racism and discrimination – one incident Melis draws on is the  racist, terrorist attack that took place in Hanau on 19th February 2020.

Based on her experiences as a Turk-German, Melis tells EarthRights about the importance of having a balance and uncovering the nuances in stories about migration – hence her work at Guiti News. She explaines that the mass media forms narratives that are very damaging to the public opinion surrounding refugees and migrants, people often already experiencing trauma.

Language is extremely important and powerful – please read Pippa’s article about Why language matters’.

For clarification on definitions on migration:
– International Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
– Glossary on Migration (Guiti News)

Melis also mentions about the assimilation of refugees and migrants into mainstream German culture, which is very difficult, but she suggests that people can create friendly connections online with: Conversation Over Borders.

Finally, BIG TECH: Melis and EarthRights talk about the problems with algorithms and their designers (generally ‘white privileged males’), social media and the way we now consume news online. How can we really expect to have healthy conversations when there is a lack of content moderation, fact checking and diversity.

Mel has also explored the concept of big tech, digital rights and citizenship in her article: The digital gender divide’.

So, are we chilling in Orwell’s 1984?   Here is some further reading you can do…
– Envy – Yuri Olesha
One Dimensional Man – Herbert Marcuse (read online)
Free Speech – Ten Principles for a Connected World (podcast episode)