Green Spaces Issue
Guidance Paper 7
Working with the Media and Ethnic
Black Environment Network - December
Working with the media, nationally and
locally is an important part of
connecting ethnic minority groups to
green spaces. When working with ethnic
minority groups, one must be aware that
there are many vulnerable groups and
individuals who maybe sensitive to public
exposure. Steps must be taken to protect
their interests and to therefore ensure
an ongoing positive relationship with
1. Identifying sympathetic media
When reading newspapers, magazines and
viewing different media, take note of
sympathetic presentations of ethnic
minorities by the media, and make contact
with relevant personnel to develop a
working relationship which you can use on
Consult local ethnic minority groups
to tap into their connections and their
views of media, especially locally.
2. Identifying opportunities
Look at your programme of work and
activities and identify if there are
opportunities to publicise aspects of it
which are of particular interest to
ethnic minority groups.
Consult relevant groups to talk about
your ideas and the opportunities you have
spotted. Ask them for their views and
assistance, e.g. you may get a first
visit by a group of young children and
their parents and there is for example a
falconry display. Talk to the group
leader to see if he or she can talk to
particular parents to get their
permission for their children to be
photographed, with the aim of putting the
photo into local organisations'
3. Making a decision on media
a. A group may be vulnerable and not
wish to have the presence of the media.
Sometimes a group may make the wrong
decision about itself, and the final
decision should also include the
judgement of the organising organisation,
e.g. BEN or HHA, assessing whether their
presence might be detrimental to the
process of engagement which it wishes to
b. The suggestion may be varied to
give the group choices in how they engage
with the media, e.g. instead of a
constant presence throughout the
activities, it may be arranged that the
journalist or photographer is present
only at the end of the visit so that the
process of engagement is not interrupted.
c. The organising organisation should
be present, and at their discretion stop
inappropriate questions. Only particular
more confident members of the group will
answer questions or pose for photos. Not
all of them need to do it.
4. Briefing community groups
Talk to their representative about:
a. the purpose for the media presence,
e.g. to promote the project to other
organisations and community groups, and
that their consent to share their
experience is a contribution to the
opening up of activities to others.
b. how and where the photos will be
used, one-off or to be used again in the
future. Children under 16 need their
parents to consent to use of photos.
c. whether they want their details as
a group published. Sometimes groups
prefer to be anonymous so they cannot be
identified by location. Other groups see
acknowledgement of group name etc. as a
kind of recognition of their input.
d. the fact that they do not have to
answer questions they are unhappy about,
that they can designate only particular
members of the group to answer questions
or have photos taken. They can stop any
of the media activities at any time if
they are unhappy about it.
e. they can comment on the setting or
the way photographers want to pose them
and have their input as to what they want
and see as important to show.
f. whether he or she has actually
consulted the people to be involved. The
community group must be happy about the
arrangements you wish to make.
g. the details of the arrangement.
Times and dates must be written down.
Even if it is given over the phone, you
must write to re-confirm. If you are
making efforts towards an arrangement
such as a photo opportunity, you must
double check that they will be turning up
in the right place at the right time.
3. Briefing journalists and
a. Photos which are portrait-like are
not acceptable. Groups should never look
straight into the camera. The focus must
be the activity. Focus on settings which
point to issues or subject matter which
are important to highlight.
b. Brief them on the purpose of the
project and get them on side to assist us
in getting the right messages across.
Give them a written brief outline of the
aims of the project and the process we
are taking the organisations and groups
through. Include any notes on particular
cultural sensitivities in relation to
different ethnic groups.
c. If there is time, the community
groups would like to see and comment on
the text and photos.
d. Ask for copies of whatever is
4. Dealing with problems
Whatever you do, sometimes there will
be unforeseen upsets and problems.
Remember that if you have an ongoing
positive relationship with an ethnic
group, things can always be sorted out.
Groups understand that it is not possible
to know everything - mistakes may be made
on either side and everyone will learn
for the future. Groups can get it wrong
too, e.g. they may get dates or times
wrong and not turn up when you have made
great efforts to arrange for a photo
When dealing with problems:
a. arrange to see them face to face.
Do not try to sort things out from a
b. agree any remedial steps, listening
carefully to their wishes and checking
back that you have understood what they
have expressed correctly. e.g. there may
be an apology in a local newsletter, or a
letter written directly to the offended
party by someone high up in your own
c. continue to work with the group,
making regular contact like you always
have. Do not shy away because there has
been a problem. Look to the future.
d. realise that sometimes problems
arise because we simply cannot control
what happens with the media altogether.
And, even sympathetic media personnel can
also get it wrong. They may not have time
to always check back before their own
In such cases it is important to
empathise with the ethnic community
group, showing clearly that you
understand what has happened and that you
are on their side.
Do what you can, e.g. contact the
media personnel who have caused the
problem and explain clearly what has
happened. Try to get them to write to
apologise even if no more can be done.
Often, sympathetic media people who have
made a mistake will try harder to do
something to support ethnic minority
groups. It may result in more publicity.
5. Last of all - make it all fun !
Everyone likes good publicity that
celebrates their presence, their culture
or their contribution, or which gives new
information and promotes opportunities to
be involved. It is fun for ethnic
minority groups to work with the media
when everything goes well. It is the way
it should be.
Guidance Paper 7
Green Spaces |