Immigrants in media

There was an interesting post from @JeffJarvis on twitter yesterday:

The jist is that very few people with a migration background work in media in Germany.

I wrote back:

I’ve lived in Germany for 20 years. My German is good, many say very good. But nowhere near good enough to work in media.

I did a stint as a translator (brochures and legal documents), that showed me how much I still have to learn. Funny, legal was a lot easier than media!

I also did some social media stuff, that is easier as grammar goes out the window anyway!

Being diversified is one thing competence to actually do the job another.

I say this as someone with an immigration background!

There are many Non-Germans in TV media and I have great respect for them. I could, at best, make a comedy show with my mispronoununciations, although I know too many people who are cringingly worse than me. Just listening to @jeffjarvis butcher German on TWiG makes me cringe at times.

I have done speeches and presentations in German and they came over well, but there were too many mistakes for me to do it professionally. German is a very difficult language.

This is a problem I have with such diversification over everything initiatives. I am in this minority group and I know how hard it is to get my German up to a professional level, where I could work in media or translation professionally.

Having such an initiative is great, but the realities are often that, even with such an initiative, it will be hard, if not impossible to fulfil such goals.

I see this in IT as well, all the time. We need more women or more people with ethnic origins. But, if there aren’t any people with those origins, with the right skills, no matter how hard you push such an initiative, companies won’t be able to meet them.

What is really needed is getting more people interested in whatever segment of industry we are talking about and get them interested and trained up from an early age.

Language skills, especially those needed for media reporting are hard to find even among native speakers, let alone people who have learnt the language as a 2nd or 3rd language.

If we want that diversity, then we really need to push advanced language skills courses for immigrants, just saying there aren’t enough and we need more and need to encourage people to take on the jobs is not enough.

My German is only as good as it is because I only speak German at home and at work. I only watch German TV and a majority of the books I read these days are German. My wife doesn’t speak English, so I am forced to speak German.

I know other Brits, Turks, people from, Russian, Arab or Asian descent, who after 15-20 years of living here can only speak rudimentary German, because they only speak their native language at home, work in companies where they don’t need German or only rudimentary German, only when they go shopping so they really need any German. In this respect, I am very lucky, but it still isn’t enough for a job in professional German language media.