Continuing on from last week's reflections on a "Ted Talk" style presentation I volunteered to do at work about Romania, I'll pick up where I left off...
Romania has in large been negatively presented in the UK press, with shock headlines a proven way to sell papers. It's unsurprizing that it's such a popular tactic and Romania and immigration in general, seems to be a particularly popular topic. Brexit and US politics have increased the anti-immigrant rhetoric, a situation the media has often been only too happy to contribute to:
The slide on the left shows a selection of headlines, all designed to strike fear over loss of jobs or people taking advantage of UK benefits, to the detriment of UK citizens.
The reality of the time, as highlighted by investigative journalist Jon Danzig, was nowhere near as sensational. In fact, awaiting the expected vast numbers of Romanians entering the UK when restrictions were lifted, journalists were left red faced at Luton airport as a grand total of two Romanians new to the UK were on the plane:
Romania, aware of the bad press its' nationals were receiving in the UK, launched a clever tongue-in-cheek counter-campaign towards Britain, inviting Brits to visit or move to Romania:
The Romanian daily newspaper Gandul ran a number of such ads, and more recently, "Romanians for Remainians" whereby Romanian families would "adopt" Post-Brexit Brits. Read about the humorous idea here:
There has been an extreme change in attitude by the Daily Mail since Covid-19. The continuous effort to create stigma and prejudice towards Romanian immigrants has been replaced by very unexpected headlines. Now, they are vital to the UK food chain and economy, being flown in to prevent fruit and vegetables rotting in fields. For once, this paper has validated the contributions immigrants can bring the UK, but once the crisis is over, will they revert back to the negativity?
I have very personal reasons why the misrepresentation of Romania affects me so much. My husband is Romanian, and we want our kids to feel proud of both their Scottish and Romanian heritage. It's very important that we help them understand that the headlines and anti-immigrant sentiments they provoke, are unfair, and entirely inaccurate. I hope that in some way, I can help people see the bigger picture and learn to discover more themselves before believing what some of the UK press tries to instill.
We should all try to look for what we have in common, rather than differences. My last
slide from my presentation showed an example of this, Romania and Scotland both have embarrassing musical twins!
I also explained about my second Twitter account, Romanian Scot. If you have enjoyed this blog, and would like to read more positive news about Romania, I invite you to follow the account. I have enjoyed learning a huge amount about Romania through spending time there, and also researching for my book which will be released soon.