At the moment there are some 300,000 gypsy travellers in the UK. They have been brought into the public eye by the Channel 4 hit show ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’. Many however have criticised the show for stereotyping the traveller community.
A couple of years ago before BFGW hit small screens nationwide Nathalie McDermott started Savvy Chavvy an online forum for the traveller community. Having talked to and met people in the community who had experienced many kinds of discrimination and stigmatisation, On Road Media felt it was high time they had a platform to express themselves.
Nathalie explains that on Facebook and other social networking sites the travellers are sent a lot of abuse, stereotyping, and racist commentary.
#BFGW is often a trending subject on Twitter these days…
Savvy Chavvy which actually means ‘young person’ in the traveller community is a place where young ‘gypsies’ generate their own content about their own community.
Nathalie criticised BFGW saying that “C4 says it is shining a light on a community” but actually it is only looking at a tiny part of the society. This causes a skewed interpretation of what life as a traveller is really like. According to her many feel that the show is embarrassing.
Blogs and social networks where people in communities can contribute their own information and experiences may be able to counter the single view. Platforms like this as well as Twitter and Facebook can also be excellent tools for journalists looking for the real people behind the stories, and for generating stories in themselves.
Finally Nathalie told us that it’s important that journalists get to grips with how to build networks online. This is because it’s an invaluable and extensive tool for finding and building networks of contacts and stories. Paul Bradshaw is also a great advocate of building a social community online. You can read more about ‘community strategies‘ on his website.
As a closing comment she said that as journalists we cannot put off learning the essentials of online journalism for any longer. Young journalists may be worst affected by this as well. The first thing employers do these days before taking someone on is to ‘google them’. According to Nathalie if there’s nothing online about you, chances are you’re much less likely to bag the job… so we say get online!!
Here’s the interview with Nathalie:
This is an example of a video from Savvy Chavvy:
This post also show how anyone can generate content for online without lots of expensive equipment. The interview with Nathalie was recorded on a smart phone! Users generate that content!
By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm