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1 Aug 2022

DOTZ for “Culture for Solidarity – Ukraine edition”

DOTZ is a media project that endeavours to provide a more diverse and unbiased perspective in the field of journalism. Founded by a group of racialised female journalists based in Italy, DOTZ amplifies the voices of those who are often silenced in the industry. DOTZ strives to report news as impartially as possible and bolsters an intersectional approach. In the scope of the ‘Culture of Solidarity’ fund, DOTZ intends to examine the double standard adopted by the Western media during the early stage of the Ukraine’s conflict in March 2022, and analyse the issue of the pushbacks of people of colour by authorities at the borders with Poland.

An alternative to mainstream media

According to a 2016 survey conducted by the City University London, 94% of the current journalistic landscape is comprised of white individuals, and 55% of the industry is male. The lack of diversity in newsrooms and the prevalence of inappropriate and biased language in describing marginalised groups remains a significant issue in Italian and European journalism. DOTZ was created to address this problem and serve as an alternative. One of the primary objectives of the project is to showcase the contemporary society through the stories of individuals, as they strongly believe in the importance of singular narratives as a means of understanding complex phenomena and changes.

The team

DOTZ comprises of five journalists, including Sara Lemlem who is the founder and a video journalist, Leila Belhadj Mohamed, who serves as the Geopolitics editor, Ariman Scriba, who is responsible for the Mental Health section, and Federica Bonalumi, who works as a video journalist and serves as the Editor in chief. They initially met during a protest —cambieRAI, ”you will change”— that was organised to address the issue of racist language used in the Italian national TV channel, Rai. During this protest, they discussed the need for a media company that is inclusive and unbiased, especially in the way that the Western media portrays and talks about non-white people and other marginalised groups.

Ethical narration

In March 2022 when people of colour fleeing the Ukrainian conflict were forbidden to access trains, while white refugees were allowed to do so. The European mainstream media reported these events with significant delays. Even more problematic was the coverage of February 2022, when many anchors referred to people migrating from conflicts in developing countries as uncivilised. To counter such attitudes, DOTZ’s focus is on ethical narration of racialised communities. The project intends to build a journalistic narrative that is unbiased, incorporating the points of view of journalists and professionals with migrant backgrounds. DOTZ aims to promote diversity in the Italian and European media landscape, where the voices of marginalised journalists are often unheard. “Ethical narration is firstly based on research and listening,” says Sara on behalf of DOTZ. “It would be superficial talking about something that we haven’t studied or lived, or referring to social groups without asking them or better, working with them. Unbiased journalism is a utopian goal that may at least put into discussion some biases that everyone has. For example towards our privileges when talking about the Other, in terms of race, gender, ability, social status.”

Change comes from the margins

Sara feels inspired by the marginalised— “The creativity that it takes to be outside of the norm and still finding ways to survive and create new symbols, paths, changes. Our motto is inspired by the Afroamerican sociologist bell hooks: ‘change comes from the margins’.“ DOTZ can be followed on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

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