Eighteen postgraduate students and staff from the University of Limerick have, over the past six months, came together every fortnight to work on a new media initiative called Tell Your Own Story.
The project encourages people from diverse cultural backgrounds to ‘tell their own story’ in Irish media and to give readers and listeners glimpses into their cultures. The ultimate aim of Tell Your Own Story is to highlight what is shared across cultures and to promote empathy and inclusivity in the wider community.
The idea was initially presented by Maria Rieder as a response to racist incidents that took place on the UL campus and Limerick city in 2021. These included sustained intimidation and verbal abuse of PhD students from Algeria, many of whom are Muslim.
The project comes from the premise that racism, stereotypes and discrimination arise due to a lack of knowledge in the community and an inflated perception of difference between cultures. They may be based on first-hand and single experiences with members of stigmatised groups.
Most importantly, however, stereotypes are driven by second-hand information and mass media exercise great power over their audiences: prolonged exposure to biased media content has the potential to cause highly automatic stereotypes and behaviours towards other cultures.
The project aims to counteract this with a regular, media-based intervention for stereotype and prejudice reduction in local news media. With the support of lecturers in Journalism, the project participants have over the summer been trained in interculturality, the Irish media landscape, writing for media, videoing and the creation of podcasts and radio shows. Since then, the group have met regularly to build the campaign, to identify outlets and to write.
With the support of lecturers in Journalism, empathy training centre Narrative 4 and community radio station Wired FM, the project participants have over the summer been trained in interculturality, the Irish media landscape, writing for media, videoing and the creation of podcasts and radio shows
The stories to be published seek to represent the rich multiculturality present on campus, in the city and in the local community; they aim to promote tolerance and inclusivity, expand our knowledge and understanding of the others and help us to build bridges between cultures.
The project is now about to expand into Limerick city with the NGO Doras as partner, and is supported by funding from the Irish Research Council.
Watch out for the first Tell Your Own Story contribution to be published shortly here in the Limerick Voice!
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