Cross-border collaboration

Outside the Regional Centre for Accommodation and Procedures for Asylum Seekers, Bucharest
Outside the Regional Centre for Accommodation and Procedures for Asylum Seekers, Bucharest

The series on youth opportunities I produced last year with Romanian TV journalist, Lorelei Mihala, is being published in instalments on Cafe Babel (appropriately, a magazine published in multiple languages and aimed at young Europeans).

We were funded by the Council of Europe, as part of a programme aimed at getting more diversity into the media – hence our focus on young migrants and refugees in both cities, London and Bucharest.

It was a difficult project. We’d never met before I arrived in Romania; we wanted to capture video as well as produce a written piece; we only found out we got the grant a week or two before starting, meaning many unavailable interviewees; and we wrote it all up afterwards during weekends, back in our respective countries. We also realised at some point that we hadn’t quite understood each other’s ideas about what the final piece looked like, and we probably overreached in terms of the scope we tried to cover within 5 or 6 days per city. Then there was the basic fact of working as a team: more people working on something doesn’t necessarily make it quicker, requiring more discussion and compromise – something lone journalists are used to being able to avoid.

It was fun though, and somehow it came together. And of course, I’d never have known where the students hung out on a Tuesday evening, and never got access to the refugee centre in Bucharest without Lorelei (nor been able to speak to anyone there: the staff we met pointedly ignored me during the entire interview). Grant opportunities are fairly rare, but sites like hostwriter are offering couchsurfing-style matching services – so really there’s no excuse.

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