10 January 2003 – Nikola Medic, a freelance journalist from Serbia who sought asylum in the UK in 1992, has been appointed as Communications Officer to the PressWise Refugees, Asylum-Seekers and the Media (RAM) Project. His main task will be to help other exiled journalists to gain work within the UK media.
He has two main priorities: to develop a print and web-based directory of exiled journalists containing their stories and experience as a means of marketing their skills to the UK media, and to organise a residential weekend for exiled journalists to learn more about how the UK media industry operates.
Says Nikola, whose work has appeared in The Guardian and the Financial Times: “I have learned the hard way just how difficult it is to survive as a freelance, especially when English is not your first language, and expectations are so different from what you have been used to at home.”
“Things are so much more difficult when media coverage of refugees and asylum seekers is sensationalist. Many refugees feel that the media here is downright threatening. They are worried that hostile coverage will put their own safety at risk.”
Mike Jempson, Director of PressWise, which set up the RAM project in 1999, explains: “Many exiled journalists have had to leave their country simply for doing their job. Most are astonished at the vitriol directed against refugees and asylum-seekers by some sections of the media here. The aim of the RAM Project is to promote fair and responsible coverage. One of the best ways of achieving this would be get exiled journalists into the newsroom, working alongside and talking with their UK colleagues.”
Nikola’s appointment comes at a time when the problems facing asylum-seekers in the UK are increasing, and the threat of war is likely to increase the number of asylum applications. He will be working alongside Project Co-ordinator Terry Williams, himself a journalist, who organises events to develop contacts between refugee groups and the media and to improve understanding of asylum issues among media professionals.
For more information please contact:
Nikola Medic: 0117 941 5889 or Mike Jempson: 0117 93 99 333/07968 031 532
Note for editors
The RAM Project runs a monthly electronic bulletin, currently guest edited by exiled journalists, and a website monitoring media coverage and assisting those who want to challenge it. Funding for Nikola’s post has come from the Barrow Cadbury Trust. The RAM Project also receives funding from the Home Office Refugee Integration Unit.
(Bulletin No 77)