Latvia's diaspora communications policy considered

On 5 February, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a discussion on social media accessibility for the diaspora, cooperation with the diaspora media, public support for communication with the diaspora and the contents of public service remit concerning the diaspora and return migration related topics.

The participants included representatives from the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), LSM.LV and the European Latvian Association (ELA).

Atis Sjanīts, Ambassador-at-Large for the Diaspora at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in his introductory remarks, that a debate should be continued on the future of the diaspora media and their ability to attract the interest of both the Latvian community abroad and people in Latvia, a press release from the ministry outlined, without quoting anyone directly.

The outcomes of discussions should feed into the formulation of a national policy on diaspora media, the release said adding that the Foreign Ministry intends to support an NEPLP competition for diaspora media so as to highlight developments in the field of both the diaspora and return migration and produce news items on the Latvian community in foreign countries and on the opportunities and support upon return to Latvia.

At the same time, it should be evaluated whether new platforms are needed for communication with the diaspora, or the current ones, for instance, www.visiemltv.lv site or lsm.lv portal should be improved.

Regardless of the limited resources, there are currently a number of ways and possibilities of cooperating with the diaspora, sometimes referred to as the  "fifth region" (i.e. in addition to the four existing regions of Latvia).

The public service remit should include a systematic approach to cooperation and promote effective communication with the large part of the nation currently residing abroad, while addressing the issues of both contents and technology.  

The participants at the meeting included Gunta Līdaka, member of the NEPLP, Ivars Belte, Chairman of the Board of Latvian Television, Sergejs Ņesterovs, its board member, Marta Cerava, Editor-in-Chief of lsm.lv, and Vikija Valdmane, content editor at Latvian Television.

Marta Cerava, LSM's Editor-in-chief said: "We already have the online TV channel visiemltv.lv, which is a good base to build on. Of course there are many needs and it is also a financial question to move forward with this. But what we did offer are places for internships for those who want to learn online journalism."

Elīna Pinto, Vice Chair of the ELA, informed the audience that the discussion is to continue at a diaspora media seminar organised by the ELA this coming spring, aiming at the media environment that offers mutually enriching information on the diaspora, its activities aimed at preserving national identity and fostering its link with the homeland while also creating a more cohesive society in Latvia.

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