The media play a large part in the formation of positive and negative images and self-images of minorities. According to B. S. Greenberg, Researchers have found that communication about minorities is value laden and that audiences internalize these values in a number of ways. Therefore it is important to ask what minority and majority audiences learn about themselves and each another from the media. How are ethnic and sexual minorities portrayed in the Lithuanian mass media? What effects do those portrayals have on minority and majority groups?
Issues of access and representation for sexual and ethnic minorities in the mass media remain paramount. The invisibility and marginalization work against numerous groups, including gays, lesbians, ethnic minorities and women. Acknowledging that ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class, and age intersect in the mass media, this paper addresses ethnic and sexual representations in the Lithuanian mass media.
The production, circulation and consumption of media representations of ethnic and sexual minorities have been inadequately analyzed in Lithuania. There have been very few studies on Lithuanian media portrayals of ethnic minorities over the last ten years. The Lithuanian sociologists Vida Beresnevičiūtė and I. Nausėdienė have begun a critical deconstruction of the representations of ethnic groups in the discourse of the Lithuanian mass media. These sociologists demonstrated that newspapers portray national minorities as unintegrated into society, as criminals, and as socially insecure or exotic groups, therefore reinforcing racial and ethnic stereotypes. While growing public and scholarly interest in ethnicity, citizenship and identity prompted a number of studies on the adaptation, assimilation and political participation of ethnic groups, the issue of the mass media and ethnic minorities nonetheless remains at the fringes of social and cultural studies.
Furthermore, research on the portrayals of sexual minorities in mass media is non-existant in Lithuania. The construction and functioning of the representations of homosexuals in the mass media have not been subjected to intensive academic scrutiny. The reasons are two-fold. First of all, the subject of sexual minorities and of sexuality in general is considered trivial and unimportant. Secondly, mass media studies in Lithuania are at their most rudimentary stage.
In this paper, which is a part of a larger work, I will focus on the images of ethnic and sexual minorities displayed by the Lithuanian press and TV in 2000 and 2001. I will analyze the representations of four ethnic groups, Russians, Poles, Roma people and Jews, living in Lithuania, by the Lithuanian media. I will also describe how the topics of ethnicity and homosexuality have been presented, and on what regimes of representation the Lithuanian mass media have been drawing when they have represented ethnic and sexual minorities. I will conclude my paper with some initials notes about policy-oriented recommendations on how to change popular media representations of minority groups.
1. Legal Framework: Laws on Ethnic Minorities and the Mass Media
In their every day, citizens of Lithuania encounter a multiethnic and multicultural reality: parallel cultural traditions, different ethnic groups, religions, churches, and denominations. Ethnic minorities now account for about 20 percent of the population of Lithuania (around 746,000). Around 109 different nationalities and ethnicities live in Lithuania, including Russians, Poles, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Jews, Tatars, Latvians, Gypsies, Germans, Armenians, Uzbeks, Azerbaijanis, Georgians, Estonians, Karaites, Greeks and Hungarians. The data from the Statistical Yearbook of Lithuania (Vilnius 1989) show that Russians comprise 8.2%, Poles 6.9%, Belorussians 1.5%, Ukrainians 1.0%, Jews 0.1%. The greatest number of non-Lithuanians live in eastern and south-eastern part of Lithuania and in the cities of Vilnius, Klaipeda and Visaginas.
According to Lithuanian sociologists Natalija Kasatkina and Tadas Leoncikas, Russians are the biggest and socially heterogeneous minority. Poles are the second biggest minority, but less socially heterogeneous. Jews, described as a non-territorial minority, present a diaspora. The Roma minority is also a non-territorial minority, which keeps a prominent cultural distance and is characterized by limited social mobility.
To support the cultures of ethnic minorities, and to design and execute national policy towards them, the Department of National Minorities and Émigrés for the Government of the Republic of Lithuania was established in 1990. The Department cooperates with the national communities and their organizations in Lithuania. The House of National Communities and the Council of National Communities function within the framework of the Department. By 2000, 19 different nationalities residing in Lithuania established their own non-governmental organizations. The most active national and ethnic minority organizations include the Russian Cultural Center, the Lithuanian Russian Community, the Union of Lithuanian Poles, the Jewish Community of Lithuania, and the Association of Lithuanian Roma. It should be mentioned that in 1998 the Roma Information Bureau was opened. It oversees social, cultural and educational issues of Roma people.
It has been argued that media production is shaped by prevailing state policies and socio-political responses to ethnic minorities. What laws and state initiatives shape the lives of ethnic minorities in Lithuania?
The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania (articles 37 and 45) guarantees political, social and economic rights to its citizens regardless their ethnic background. Similarly, the Law on National Minorities in Lithuania ratified by the Lithuanian Parliament on November 23, 1989, guarantees equal political, economic and social rights and freedoms to all its citizens regardless of ethnicity, and recognizes and respects their ethnic identity, the continuity of their culture and promote[s] ethnic consciousness and its self-expression. Lithuania acknowledges the rights of national and ethnic minorities to education, native language, religion, and culture. They have the right to preserve, develop and express their ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identities.
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was ratified in February 2000 and enacted in July 2000.
Lithuania is a member of the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other international organizations. In 1995 the Lithuanian Parliament ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and its protocols No. 4, 7, and 11.
As to most important media laws, the Convention of the European Council on Television Without Borders was ratified in 1997. The 1995 resolution of the Parliament stated that journalists had to follow the main ethical principles in accordance with Resolution No. 1003 of the European Council Parliamentary Assembly. The provisions of this resolution have formed a base for the Lithuanian Code for Ethics of Journalists and Publishers.
The Lithuanian Media Law (The Law on the Provision of Information to the Public) was ratified in 1996 and since then underwent several revisions. It provides for the freedom and independence of the press and broadcasting. The law also outlines the commitment of the media to public service, defined in terms of not discriminating between different sections of the population, covering public issues and providing opportunity for the presentation of contrasting points of view. As the law states, the media shall respect the freedom of speech, creativity, conscience and diversity of opinion and help develop democracy and openness of society.
Government laws and regulations affect all aspects of media production. Best known are the legal regulations on the content of media. The Lithuanian media law prohibits the dissemination of pornographic materials. The dissemination of publications of erotic or violent content is restricted by the decree of the Government. If the need arises, the Ethics Commission of Journalists and Publishers could decide whether the medium in question is pornographic, erotic or propagating violence. The media law also prohibits the distribution of information that incite[s] war, national, racial and religious enmity. The most important agencies of media self-regulation in Lithuania are the Ethics Commission, the Radio and Television Commission, the Council of Lithuanian National Radio and Television and the Foundation for the Support of Press, Radio and Television. The members of these organizations are appointed by the media industry and various public non-political organizations.
The legal provisions, however, do not guarantee compliance. The difference between normative laws and the everyday reality of the mass media is obvious. Although the media are not subject to any political censorship, they are highly competitive and politicized. As Colin Sparks has insightfully noted, the mass media in post-Communist Eastern Europe remains politically motivated. It is fair to argue that although the doctrine of social responsibility assumes independent power for the mass media, the press and broadcasts serve the interests of the powerful far more than those of the powerless. This is the case in Lithuania. The mass media are a battleground between powerful political and commercial interests. Often political and commercial alliances are made to control media outlets and intervene in the formation of public knowledge.
2. Sexual Minorities in Lithuania
Before 1989, the words gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender were rarely heard in Lithuania. For a long time, homosexuality was a completely taboo subject, to be spoken about in only the most reluctant way. Homosexuality was unseen and forced to remain hidden.
The situation changed after Lithuania declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. With the advent of a new press and television, the problem of homosexuality, and sexuality in general, came to be discussed publicly. From 1995 onwards coverage of sexual minorities in the mass media increased significantly due to a higher visibility of Lithuanian gay activists. But only from 1998 were sexual minorities covered more intensively, particularly in the Lithuanian press. Sexual minorities, however, are virtually invisible on television. If visible, they are usually shown in comic stereotyped settings in sitcoms and comedy shows.
The first gay organization, the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) was publicly registered in 1995. It remains the most important and active advocacy group for sexual minorities in Lithuania. The group publishes a newsletter entitled LGL žinios [LGL News] and runs a website and telephone hotline. Beside the Lithuanian Gay League, currently, there exist two other gay and lesbian organizations, SAPPHO (Lithuanian Lesbian League) and KASLO (Movement for Sexual Equality of the Kaunas County), in Lithuania.
Independent Lithuania inherited the Soviet prejudice on homosexuality. Despite the existence of constitutional guarantees of equality and privacy, the infamous article of the Penal Code (122 BK) against consensual sex between adult men was repealed only in 1993. Lithuania was the last among the three Baltic countries to abolish penalties for homosexual acts. Only in the new Penal Code to be approved this year by the Lithuanian parliament sexual orientation may be included as a criterion for protection from discrimination (Articles 160 and 161).
A substantial majority of Lithuanians hold very negative views of gays and lesbians. An opinion poll showed that in 1999 78.2% of Lithuanians did not tolerate homosexuality. Only 67.8 of respondents would want to live with homosexual neighbors, while 87.5% would rather live with drug-addicts. It is one of the lowest levels of acceptance of homosexuals in Europe. After a virtual chat of the Lithuanian public with the founder of a gay club Mens Factory Aleksei Terentiev, there arose an intense discussion about Lithuanian gays. Responses of most writers revealed that the majority of the population did not tolerate gays. People suggested that gays should move to the Moon.A Lithuanian daily Vakaro žinios (The Evening News) concluded that Most Lithuanian Hate Gays.
Media, the Public Sphere, and Citizenship
Among numerous newspapers and magazines (around 300 titles), two Lithuanian dailies Lietuvos rytas (The Morning of Lithuania) and Respublika (The Republic) dominate the national scene. Two tabloid dailies Lietuvos žinios (Lithuanian News) and Vakaro žinios (The Evening News) also boast a wide readership (due in part to their low price). All these newspapers are privately owned and operated.
The private commercial TV stations TV3, LNK and BTV operate three out of four national TV networks in Lithuania. Lithuania has one public broadcaster the Lithuanian Radio and Television Company (LRT) financed from the state budget, license fee and advertising. Management of LRT is accountable to the Parliament via the board selected by public organizations and state institutions.
Lithuania is becoming an increasingly media-dependant society. Consumers of the mass media comprise a large part of the Lithuanian population. The latest polls conducted in 2001 show that Lithuanian citizens rely on the mass media as their most significant source of information. Indeed, 61.5 % of the Lithuanian public trusts the Lithuanian mass media, the fourth estate of the realm, more than any other instititution except the Church (68.3 % of Lithuanians trust the Church most). The mass media are in this context particularly significant, because they provide a common stock of information and culture.
The mass media exert an immense influence on the defining, structuring, and delimiting of public discourse and in forming and influencing public knowledge. Articulating, developing and disseminating the ideas of ethnicity and sexuality, the mass media help to shape attitudes about ethnic and sexual minorities. As Charles Husband suggested, the power of the media to promote and sustain ideologies of domination and subordination through their representation of ethnic [and sexual] identities, and through the construction of the definition of the situation within which ethnic [and sexual] diversity in society should be understood is immense. It is in and through representations that members of the media audience are variously invited to construct a sense of who we are in relation who we are not 
Most media output is, according to Raymond Williams, a way of talking together about the processes of our common life. It can provide a means of better understanding the others in a way that fosters emphathetic insights between different sectors of society and strengthens bonds of social association. Conversely, the media can do the opposite: it can foster misunderstanding and antagonism through the repetition of stereotypical representations that focuses on displaced fears.
The question of representation is a critical arena of contestation and struggle over the monopoly of the power to impose a certain vision of a social world and to establish meaning and consensus about meaning. As Pierre Bourdieu insightfully argued: "Knowledge of the social world and, more precisely, the categories which make it possible, are the stakes par excellence of the political struggle, a struggle which is inseparably theoretical and practical, over the power of preserving or transforming the social world by preserving or transforming the categories of perception of that world."
The social world is also a representation, and to exist socially means also to be perceived, and to be recognized as distinct. Hence, non-recognition or misrecognition of a certain group can be a form of oppression, imprisoning someone in a false, distorted, and reduced mode of being. This means that misrecognition or non-recognition of ethnic and sexual minorities in the mass media is a discursive form of racism, homophobia and victimization. Non-representation in the mediated reality of our mass culture maintains the powerless status of groups that do not possess significant material or political power bases. In discursive discrimination against minority groups, media texts serve as manifestations and constituents of majority group power. As Geneva Smitherman-Donaldson and Teun A. van Dijk pointed out, it is through discourse that dominant groups and institutions discriminate against minority groups. Many forms of contemporary racism, sexism and homophobia are discursive: they are expressed, enacted and confirmed by text and talk far removed from the open violence. They, however, may be just as effective to marginalize and exclude minorities.
The issue of representation is closely related to the concept of the public sphere through which much of the study of mass media and democracy has been framed. The concept of the public sphere that owes much to Jürgen Habermas refers to the practice of open discussion about matters of common public concern in civil society. Regarding the public sphere as a political space that could help challenge and regulate public authorities, Habermas emphasized face-to-face communication, rational discourse, and a single public arena. Contemporary theorists, however, argue that civil society consists of multiple, interconnected and often competing public spheres oriented just as often to cultural issues as to political ones. Maintained by communications media, these public spheres support many different (but overlapping) communities of discourse. Society consisting of multiple public spheres, communities and associations provides a vital venue for deliberation about contested values and norms. According to Seyla Benhabib, the public sphere comes into existence whenever people engage in practical dialogue, so that there may be as many publics as there are controversial general debates ... a plurality of public spaces ... around contested issues of general concern. This conception of civil society privileges the dialogical openness and inclusiveness of the public sphere and its responsiveness to inequality and difference.
Multiple public spheres allow marginalized groups to express their claims in the form of identity politics. As Nancy Fraser insightfully suggested, public spheres are not only arenas for the formation of discursive opinion; in addition they are areans for the formation and enactment of social identities. Identities and the public production of identities play a central role in the political process which may be reconceived to include the everyday enactment of social practices and the reiteration of cultural representations.
Peter Dahlgren has pointed out that the dimension of representation in the public sphere points to such basic questions as what should be selected for portrayal and how should it be presented. In other words, what should or should not be portrayed or represented about ethnic and sexual minorities in the mass media? Which and how many representations of these minorities should be permitted in the Lithuanian mass media?
The question of visibility has always been crucial for all minority groups since visibility and inclusion can translate their views and concerns into issues of public interest. By gaining publicity in the mass media one can gain access to the sites of public policy formation and agenda-setting.
What is at stake here is the struggle over the discursive arenas of the public sphere, where members of subordinated social groups invent and circulate counter-discourses, so as to formulate oppositional interpretations of their identities, interests and needs. Thus, the problem of discursive representations of minorities central to a consideration of the mass media as both an ongoing problem and possibility for democracy points to the problems of the public sphere and citizenship in contemporary society.
Citizenship is not merely a set of legal stipulations and a manifestation of social and political circumstances. It is also a feature of culture, operative as a dimension of individual and collective identity. Having to do with public participation, inclusion and belonging, citizenship is also a form of identity.
Many analysts and theorists of media, public sphere and democracy including Charles Husband argue for a politics of citizenship that recognizes and empowers difference through a variety of particular and differentiated public spheres in the plural. And such public spheres, after Iris Marion Young, should exclude no persons, aspects of persons lives, or topics of discussion and which encourages aesthetic as well as discursive expression. In such a public, consensus and sharing may not always be the goal, but the recognition and appreciation of differences, in the context of confrontation with power.
Critical reflection of media representations, therefore, allows us to reconceptualize the role of the media in producing counter-hegemonic discourses for ethnic and sexual minority groups and in fostering a new politics of citizenship.
In the Mirror of Representations: Sexual and Ethnic Minorities in the Lithuanian Mass Media
In this work, I focus largely on the Lithuanian press since sexual and ethnic minorities are relatively invisible on Lithuanian TV networks. I use a large body of texts to obtain a representative sample of press coverage. I also sampled a continuous week of television coverage of ethnic and sexual minorities.
I analyzed a total of 119 news stories and reports about homosexuality and homosexuals in four mainstream Lithuanian dailies Lietuvos Rytas (the biggest mainstream daily), Respublika (the second biggest newspaper), Lietuvos žinios (tabloid) and Vakaro žinios (the most popular tabloid) during the period of January, 2000- June, 2001. Vakaro žinios, a tabloid immensely popular in Lithuania, carried 44 stories and articles, Lietuvos rytas was not far behind (38 articles), Respublika published 21 news report and article, and Lietuvos žinios, 16. During the sampled week (November 26- December 2), gays were featured only in an evening magazine devoted to crimes Procesas. X sektorius (The Process. X Sector), a talk showPrašau žodžio (Lets Talk) and comedy shows Tegyvuoja karalius! (Long Live the King) andŠapro šou (Šapro show).
In the case of ethnic minorities, I examined the representations of four ethnic groups, Russians, Poles, Roma people and Jews, living in Lithuania, by the largest Lithuanian daily Lietuvos rytas from November 27, 2000, to May 9, 2001.Lietuvos Rytas carried a total of 88 news stories and articles that mentioned Lithuanian Russians, Poles, Jews and Roma people. Most stories touched upon the subject of Jews and the Holocaust in Lithuania (37), Lithuanian Russians attracted 22 reports, Poles, 10, and Romani, 18. During the sampled week, there was no mention of Lithuanian Russians, Poles, Jews and Romani in the primetime news. Only one story related to a Jewish criminal was broadcast in the newsmagazine Sroves (Trends), and the comedy show ZbTV featured the main character of the Polish origin named Zbignievas.
Focusing on closer rhetorical and discursive analysis of images of ethnic and sexual minorities, I examined how the Lithuanain press and TV understand, define and deal with ethnic and sexual differences. To analyze discourses about ethnic and sexual minorities does not mean to examine their literal content. It means, above all, to analyze the ways discourses are used. How is discourse involved in the reproduction of representations of minorities? What beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, norms and values underlie the media rhetoric? What major topics are associated with each particular ethnic group and sexual minorities? What is omitted and what is published in the stories about ethnic and sexual groups and their relationships?
The works of Stuart Hall, Teun A. van Dijk and Simon Cottle, which emphasize the discursive nature of media representations, are particularly instructive in this regard. The concern with discourse in the practices of representation privileges language in the construction and circulation of meaning. Media rhetoric and discourses is analyzed to facilitate hypotheses about how the representations of minorities are constructed and disseminated in the press and on TV, what may be learned from them and what behavioral orientations they may implicate.
Representing Sexual Minorities
The mass media play a critical role in the construction of representations of the sexual minorities. Articles and broadcasts that deal with the issue of homosexuality help to shape the way the Lithuanian public thinks about homosexual people. Hence, the contribution of the mass media to the daily discourse about homosexuality in Michelle A. Wolf and Alfred P. Kielwassers words, can either exacerbate or attenuate phobic and heterosexist definitions of human sexuality, reinforcing the necessity for more programmatic research in the area.
Although homosexuality is no longer invisible in the Lithuanian press, it remains a topic that journalists are reluctant to report on. Since the homosexual community is considered a low status subculture in Lithuania, most press coverage of issues involving sexual minorities usually consists of short, sporadic articles covering a particular event or occurrence. Much of the reporting is recycled and repetitive. The Lithuanian press is particularly fond of Western gay celebrity profiles (of Elton John or Ellen Degeneres, for instance), which appear periodically on the pages of the dailies. Rarely does the Lithuanian press cover the stories of ordinary homosexuals. This demonstrates that lives of homosexual people are commonly presented as entertainment news and not as an ordinary topic requiring attention and diligence.
It is important to emphasize that Lithuanian mainstream tabloids such as Vakaro žinios cover sexual minorities more intensely than the serious press. Focusing on sex, sensation and scandal and using bold lurid headlines, such as Russian Show Business has been Occupied by Lesbians,The Presidents Daughter Visited the Gay Forum, Famous Athletes Hermaphrodites,Vakaro žinios frames stories about sexual minorities in terms of controversy, violence and deviance.
The Retarded Person Becomes a Victim of the Homosexual Retiree; Minors and Gays?, [A [Former Parliament Member] Alesionka is Sinking in a Sex Scandal and The Depraver of Kaunas Boys has been Released from Jail claim the headlines. These headlines point to the fact that the problem of sexual minorities is still considered a moral and not a civic issue in Lithuania. Since homosexuality is held to be an unnatural practice unacceptable to most people, some articles suggest that gays and lesbians seek to recruit children. Unfortunate incidents of pedophilia create an amorphous panic expressed in the press (Predatory old men perverting boys; thus, frequently, being gay equals being a pedophile). Associating homosexuals with a perverted interest in children, the Lithuanian press contributes to the mobilization of anti-gay sentiments. Consequently, homosexuals cannot be trusted with children who should be protected from homosexual propaganda. The repeated labeling of male homosexuals as pedophiles and pederasts serves to underline a pathological character of homosexuality and to incite fears and anxieties in the reader.
The emphasis on child molestation can be explained by the legislation on the age of consent in Lithuania. The country has not as yet equalized the age of consent for homosexuality and heterosexuality. For heterosexuals it is the age of sixteen, for homosexuals, eighteen.
By focusing on sex and sexuality and amplifying sexual decadence and perversion, the Lithuanian press defines what being gay involves. Inevitably, the issue of sexual minorities has transformed the debates about sexual morality and crimes. Even one of the most heinous murders of a rich Lithuanian priest and art collector Ričardas Mikutavičius in 2000 was linked a gay ring. Writing about a Vilnius gay dance club, the author quotes an anonymous heterosexual woman who states: Generally [this club] is a nest of whores. According to her, it is extremely popular among homosexuals to change partners frequently. The daily Respublika reported that on May 23, 2000, the union of Lithuanian national youth Young Lithuania demonstrated in front of the Parliament against sexual depravity and homosexuals. Hence, homosexuals and depravity are inseparable.
Gays disturb mainstream conceptions of sexuality, gender and sex and raise discomfort, ambiguity, anxiety, and tension. It has been presumed that they threaten the natural order of things. An important part of this assumption lies in beliefs that homosexuality is unnatural, that gays try to seduce heterosexuals, and that one can change ones sexual orientation.
The issue of family as central to the reproduction of society and social order features in debates about homosexuality and the regulation of gay, lesbian, and transgender practices and representations. Many Lithuanian moralists and conservatives seek to prevent media representations of the kind that explore sexualities of a non-traditional, non-heterosexual, type, as a way of reinforcing a family values morality.
Homosexuality is often discussed in the context of the Catholic Church. Newspaper articles present the Church as a defender of morality and family values, contrasting it with deviant and unacceptable homosexuals. Christian morals are juxtaposed with the bacchanalia and festivity of gays in the same sentence, as in Lietuvos rytas:
For one week, the global center of Catholicism will become the capital of sexual minorities. A stream of piligrims traveling to Rome to pray will encounter the mass parades of gays, transsexualsand lesbians. The posters of pilgrims with the greetings to the Pope will intermingle with the rubber penises, and men kissing passionately will loom amongst black dresses of the clergy
To emphasize the contrast, the author describes the official position of the Church on the issue of sexual minorities: The Pope called the parade of gays, lesbians and transvestites an insult to the Christian values ; homosexuality is a bleeding moral wound; the biggest sin after murder is homosexuality homosexual acts contradict moral norms.The very rhetoric using contrast and hyperbole points to an attempt to show gay and lesbian lives and lifestyles as an aberration and immorality.
Not Everyone Agrees with the Legalization of Gay Marriage, claimed Lietuvos rytas in the report on the Movement of Young National Democrats. Representatives of the movement were concerned about the young Lithuanian liberals support for the legalization of gay marriage. The newspaper wrote that the Movement of Young National Democrats regarded gay marriage as the destruction of traditional and healthy family and as a complete obliteration of traditions, which [was] a direct annihilation of the foundations of the nation. A similar incident was described by the Lithuanian press in June, 2000. Then two organizations, the aforementioned Movement of Young National Democrats and the Organization of Lithuanian National Youth, called The Young Generation, appealed to the Lithuanian government demanding to start a national policy to increase the birth rate in the country, to prohibit abortions, free sex, corrupt publications, gay organizations and their publications, all striptease bars and clubs. The Lithuanian Gay League protested this appeal and promised to go to court if any of the demands of the ultranationalists were accepted.
Sexuality has been the key site of social regulation in modern society. In the everyday political sphere, struggles over sexuality and its regulation are generally linked to views of social institutions and the most basic norms based on heteronormativity. As Diana Fuss has argued, homosexuality has been continually represented as deviant and linked to criminality because of its symbolic opposition to the dominant representations of heterosexuality as normative and lawful.
The Lithuanian press often invokes the concepts of the normal and the normative to provide an opposition to what is allegedly abnormal and deviant. It is obvious to a reader that homosexuality represents the latter side of this opposition. News about sexual minorities often revolve around exotic and exaggerated sides of their life such as gay pride parades, Mardi Gras and other gay festivities. Showing extreme images of lesbian and gay life cross-dressers and naked shaven-headed gays; men wearing dog-collars and leads, -- the Lithuanian press is doing society a disservice by distancing gay people from the rest of society. There have been no news reports or articles about the complexity of peoples experiences being gay, bisexual or transgender.
In treating gay people, the Lithuanian press commonly conflates sexuality and gender roles. It is often assumed that homosexual males are effeminate, and lesbians are tough. In the aforementioned story about a former member of the Lithuanian parliament, the author quoted his colleague who stated that Mr. Alesionka stood out amongst others for his tendeness and the exceptional gestures of his hands. In the report on Russian show business, the author argued that even before [Russian singer] Alegrovas features were strange. One could notice her masculine behavior and vulgar outfits resembling those of a prostitute. In the article on two Lithuanian lesbians entitled A Lesbian Couple Went to Court to Fight for Their Right to Live Peacefully the author wrote: on the street lesbians recognize each other by their masculine attire and appearance and by a peculiar glance. It is easier to recognize gay men from their feminine manners, their gentle voice, more original and colorful clothes  It can be inferred from the above excerpts that gay people can be easily recognized by certain mannerisms, speech and behavior. Both types, the queen and the dyke, are represented as if their sexuality means that they are in between the two genders of female and male. Thus lesbians are mannish, gays effeminate. The effeminate, handbag-waving pansy makes frequent appearances in Lithuanian sitcoms. Touch lesbian characters are much less visible. Both types, however, are seen as pathetic, ridiculous and comic figures. Thus, by presenting sexual minorities in this way, the Lithuanian mass media supports the system of the rigid gender roles.
The Lithuanian tabloid press, first of all Vakaro žinios, has been involved in compulsory public outings of celebrities. They Are Called Gays headlined Vakaro žinios, the most popular Lithuanian tabloid. Exploiting highly visible personalities, this newspaper has outed Lithuanian celebrities arguing that accusing society of a negative attitude towards them, gays separate themselves from the others and are reluctant to speak publicly about their sexual orientation. All the articles, however, have been used to humiliate Lithuanian celebrities and to create a scandal. The use of homosexuality as a political tool continues to be effective while homophobia remains deeply entrenched in the Lithuanian society and mass media.
Another pervasive trend in the rhetoric about homosexuals and homosexuality is allegations that the very active homosexual lobby in Lithuania is connected to and financed by international gay lobby. Some articles made references to the powerful homosexual lobby and gay publicity machine involved in pro-gay propaganda. The Blue Mafia, Priests and Seminary Students Acknowledge the Existence of Gay Clans in Seminaries claimed the headlines. It has also been alleged that influential homosexuals are doing favors for each other. The Movement of Young National Democrats insisted that Lithuanian liberals cooperated with the international homosexual lobby.The Liberals effort to legalize gay marriage was the result of an influential and latent homosexual lobby. Implying the existence of a kind of global gay conspiracy, reactionary radicals denied the idea that homosexuals are an oppressed minority.
There have been far fewer instances of positive coverage. An extensive coverage of the legalization of gay marriage in Holland is one such example. The 2001 international gay forum in Vilnius has also been described comprehensively. Foreign news are usually copied from foreign publications and presented in a sensitive and comprehensive way.Vakaro žinios ran a series of articles on homosexuality and homosexuals that described the legal, psychological and societal aspects of being gay.
My analysis of a sample of the primetime programmes on LRT (Lithuanian Public Television) and three commercial networks LNK, TV-3 and BTV during the week of November 26- December 2, 2001 revealed that gay issues were considered neither important nor significant. The most notable example of reporting on gay issues was a story about the owner of the Vilnius gay club Aleksei Terentiev who had been caught by undercover policemen for selling drugs. The evening magazine The Process. X Sector (7:45-8:20 p. m., November 28, 2001, TV3) devoted to criminal news utilized the bizarre to illustrate the way homosexuals live and look: the interviews with Terentiev, his friends and relatives were intermingled with shocking images of Gay Pride Parades. This programme used sexualized sounds suitable to erotic or pornographic movies. By emphasizing the images of gays and lesbians in terms of controversy, violence and deviance, The Process. X Sector constructed them in the sexualized and sexist ways. Stories of sexual minorities are usually framed in such a way.
Lithuanian television frequently exploits gays in the name of comedy. Gay characters are often featured in the locally produced comedy shows Tegyvuoja Karalius and Šapro sou (both on TV3). Both comedy shows shamelessly peddle the image of effeminacy in gay men. Questioning a mans sexuality becomes the source of humor. A quick look at situational comedy on Lithuanian TV indicates that gays are cast in stereotyped and demeaning situations. It can be argued that gays are usually constructed in the sexualized and sexist ways that women have been long shown on TV. Rarely sexual minorities are shown from the perspective of the gay characters.
Several important trends recur through the presentations of homosexuals on the Lithuanian television. Firstly, sexual minorities are given limited credibility in the public arena. TV programmes concern more with the alleged threat posed by sexual minorities through their crimes. Secondly, gay characters are an object of ridicule and derision. Thirdly, the Lithuanian TV perpetuates the association of gays with effeminacy and deviance. Only one programme during the sampled week, the talk show Prašau žodžio (Lets Talk, broadcast at 9:10-9:55 on November 29, LRT) demonstrated a move toward more positive depictions of gays on television. This talk show invided a gay man who presented his point of view about tolerance and intolerance towards gays in Lithuania.
2. Representations of Russians, Poles, Jews and Romani in Lietuvos rytas (LR)
According to the last population census conducted in 1989, 2700 Roma people live in Lithuania.Roma people living in Lithuania are commonly called čigonai (gypsies). They are far more visible in the Lithuanian press than a decade ago, although questions remain as to the qualitative attributes of their presence, that is how they being presented and in what context.
Unfortunately, the Roma minority drew the most cruelly stereotypical representations of all ethnic minorities in LR during the mentioned period. Virtually all stories on the Romani are systematically associated with crime, drugs, violence and asocial behavior. The criminal aspect prevails in the Romani portraits. The headlines of the stories tell it all: A Market Vendor Became a Victim of a Pickpocket, With Guns against Drugs or Police Accompanied the Census Taker to the Gypsies.
As Viktorija Jonikova demonstrated in her short overview of the Roma minority, the Lithuanian press during 1994-1999 focused on two main aspects of Romani life: firstly, on their exoticism, crime and violence and, secondly, on their social, economic and legal hardships. According to Jonikova, the latter aspect was more prominent in the second half of the mentioned period. In the sociologists view, journalists did not succeed in avoiding the apriori assumption towards Roma people, based on unfounded myths and stereotypes Much attention is paid to the criminality of Romani, particularly to the drug trade (41% of published articles and reports deals with this topic). It is interesting that in criminal reports, the ethnicity of Roma is emphasized, transferring the personal characteristics of the criminal to the whole community. Thus, discriminatory attitudes towards all members of the Roma community are reinforced.
The portrait of the Roma minority which emerges during the period of November 27, 2000, to May 9, 2001, in the biggest Lithuanian daily is far from flattering. Roma people are usually depicted as segregated and asocial. Police reports published in LR often mention gypsies. Gypsies, according to LR, are thievish, ignorant, lazy, deceitful and rude. They are also pickpockets and professional hypnotists cheating citizens out of their money (as in A Market Vendor Became a Victim of a Pickpocket about a thief of Roma origin). By presenting Romani simply as criminals whose main source of income is crime, LR has consolidated the image of gypsy criminals in Lithuanian mass consciousness.
Articles on drug crimes were usually related to the Roma minority. The reports imply that drug-dealers are typically gypsies. For instance, in the report With Guns against Drugs, policemen fighting against the drug trade indicated that every day several drug-addicts and drug-dealers are caught in the Roma tabor (Roma living settlement) in Kirtimai, near Vilnius. In another police report, entitled A Farmer Turned the Growing of Poppies into a Profitable Trade, farmer Bronius Švilpa was caught storing eighteen bags of poppy heads and stems at his house. Wondering who might have informed on him, this farmer told the police that he sold three bags of poppies to gypsies.In a story Heroin Defeated a Member of the Vilnius Brigade a member of the crime cartel The Vilnius brigade Eduardas Bogdziulis became addicted to drugs which he acquired in the Roma tabor near Vilnius. The news about people spotted in the tabor coming to buy drugs are a commonplace in LR.
Roma people are frequently mentioned in sensational yet downright trivial articles with the headlines such as The Amnestees Booty 5 Rabbits (in which rabbits were supposed to be sold to the gypsies) or Money Did Not Buy Back Her Boyfriends Love. The latter report narrates a sad story about a woman, a bank clerk, who stole money to pay a gypsy woman to get her lover back through witchcraft. When the crime was revealed, Bronė Barcienė was sentenced to three years in jail, while the bewitched gypsy Ver Sinkevičienė disappeared mysteriously. Her relatives told the investigators that she had left for England. Horse Slaughterers in the Hands of Police describes an illegal slaughter house which traded in a horse meat. The accused member O.Jankaitienė of the company admitted that she had bought six horses from a gypsy national Erikas Černiauskas, an inhabitant of Šiauliai. The report stated that the organizer of this slaughtering might be fined for her illegal commercial activity and cruelty to the animals.
During the researched period there were very few stories about the poverty of Roma people. One of the stories described a protest of a Romani woman in the office of the Kybartai elderman. A homeless woman allegedly demanded a shelter for herself and her seven children. Although a grave matter is discussed, the tone of the story is strikingly humorous and trivial. A Romani woman is described as simply a trouble-maker. In another story The Title of Gypsy King Did Not Seduce [the Mayor of the Varėna District] the mayor of the Varėna district tells the reporter that often he is called a gypsy king by the Roma women who frequent his office to demand higher welfare checks. In an article, the Roma women are described as agressive and hot-tempered. Emphasis on the personal characteristics of the Romani such as their impulsiveness, unpredictability, passion and temperament is prominent in LR. One report even mention a crime of passion: a Romani inmate committed suicide after allegedly being rejected by her lover.
I found only one positive story related to the Roma people. In a story entitled Nice Promises Led to a Homeless Shelter a woman cheated out of her apartment by a crook decided to commit suicide. Fortunately, her old acquaintance, a gypsy woman named Sonia, stopped her from this deed. A woman told that she would be grateful to Sonia the rest of her life not only for the temporary shelter but also for saving her life.
LR published no stories or news reports about the Romani as participants in the social and cultural life of the country. There were no reports on the activities of non-governmental Roma organizations. The newspaper did not cover government policy toward the Roma minority. Although the dire economic and social conditions of the Romani are implied in some reports, more extensive descriptions of Roma settlements and their environment (without modern conveniences such as electricity, running water and telephones) are missing.
All in all, from 18 stories related to the Roma minority, 14 deal with crime and drugs, 3, with Roma women as troublemakers, and only 1, with the positive experience of being helped a Roma woman. The small number of stories on Roma people cannot be held representative. My description does, however, indicate that the main Lithuanian daily uses a common stock of stereotypical representations of Roma people as trouble-makers, criminals and deceivers. LR not only reflects but also perpetuates the negative attitudes of Lithuanian society toward Roma.
According to a recent sociological survey, Jews are the least valued ethnic group in Lithuania. The reasons are political involving some Lithuanian politicians renown for their staunch anti-Semitism and the conflicts of the Lithuanian ruling elite with Jewish organizations in Israel such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Anti-Semitism is still prevalent in Lithuanian culture and individuals cannot easily disentangle themselves from it. Yet Jews receive most attention amongst ethnic groups by the mass media. LR presents a diverse and multi-sided perspective on the Jewish minority in Lithuania. In comparison to the coverage of the Roma minority, Lithuanian Jews enjoy a multi-sided and favorable representation.
Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and Jewish cultural heritage are three main topics. From a total of 37 stories, 17 were devoted to anti-Semitism, 10 to the Holocaust (Lithuanian war criminals who took part in the extermination of the Lithuanian Jewry and Lithuanians who helped to save Jews), 8 to Jewish culture and 2 to anecdotes ofJewish life.
LR extensively covers anti-Semitism in Lithuanian society. The rise of neo-Nazi groups in Lithuania, according to an editorial, is disturbing because the government does not do enough to stop neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic propaganda. Columnist Rimvydas Valatka even accused the dominant groups in the Parliament of a negligent attitude towards anti-Semitism: A publication calling itself a state newspaper, openly incites anti-Semitic hysteria and advocates the philosophy of Jewish murderers. But the Chairman of the Parliament remains silent. And the Prime-Minister is silent too.... And the Parliament keeps silence. As if it is the way it should be.
In January 2001, Swedish TV broadcasted a documentary about Lithuania, in which Parliament member Vytautas Šustauskas made strong anti-Semitic statements. The documentary stirred not only the Swedish public. It created a scandal in Lithuanian political circles. The procedures of political discussion were extensively described by LR. The anti-Semitic statements of a member of the Kaunas City Council Vytautas Šustauskasequivalent to the justification of the Holocaust are absolutely unacceptable and harmful to the City of Kaunas, claimed the representatives of three political fractions. The Chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament Artūras Paulauskas asserted that Šustauskass public speeches harm the image of Lithuania in the world and incite national discord. Šustauskass scandal merited a lot of coverage in the biggest Lithuanian daily. Almost every other day during the rest of January 2001, there was yet another article or news report on the development of the anti-Semitic scandal. Finally, after extensive coverage in the Lithuanian press, the Union of the Center (one of the political parties) appealed to the Prosecutor General and the Minister of Justice to evaluate juridically V. Šustauskass declarations. Furthermore, as the newspaper reported, the leaders of the Kaunas Jewish community refused to participate in a public disscusion with V. Šustauskas because of his anti-Semitic statements. We wanted to get an explanation on what anti-Semitism is and finally to end this story, said Šustauskas left without opponents in City Hall.
Reporters of LR did not miss any phenomena of anti-Semitism. The desecration of a menora in December 2000, in the old town of Vilnius was widely reported and discussed. As were the memorial plaques stolen from the Jewish graveyards in the district of Telšiai. The Jewish community in Lithuania and the Lithuanian government hoped that the desecration of a menora symbolizing tolerance and religious freedom was merely an act of hoolliganism.
It is clear that the newspaper monitors anti-Semitic sentiments in society and attempts to present solutions for the problem in a passionate yet constructive way. The report about the anti-American and anti-Semitic mood in Mažeikiai, the city with an oil refinery owned by an American company Williams, is a case in point. The report entitled The Leftist Became Confused by the Moods of his Electorate sought to dispel the alleged connection between Jews and criminal financial interests dominant in the Lithuanian mass consciousness. Anti-American and anti-Semitic moods among the population of Mažeikiai proved to be only a figment of the imagination of a Parliament member Jonas Jurkus.
The second major theme prominent in LR is the Holocaust and the events traumatic to both Jews and Lithuanians. Both Jews and Lithuanians still struggle against the mistrust that characterizes their interactions on the everyday political level. It could be said that Jews and Lithuanians have irreconcilable perspectives on reconciliation and coming to terms with the past. As LR frequently reports, Israeli Jews blame the Lithuanian government for not being firm enough on the issue of war criminals, and the Lithuanian government and prosecutors respond that they are doing everything that is within their means. The political conflicts exemplify the deeper tensions within Lithuanian society. While most Lithuanians tend to stress forgiveness as the moral lesson of the Holocaust, many in the Jewish community emphasize that forgiveness means the forgetting the past and exonerating the criminals.
LR reveals these tensions by describing the responses of various public organizations in Israel and in the world to the attempt of Lithuania to do historical justice. The newspaper reveals the differences in the discursive practices of two respective communities and historical experiences.
During the researched period, we find, in LR, an extended coverage of trials of war criminals. The trial of Aleksandras Lileikis and Kazys Gimžauskas accused of participating in the genocide of Jews during the World War II dominated the Holocaust theme in the newspaper. LR also reported on the requests of the Lithuanian government to get suspected war criminals J. Naujalis and A.Gecevičius (Gecas) extradicted from the United States and the Great Britain respectively. The topic of the Holocaust also includes descriptions of the public events commemorating the victims of the Holocaust and public ceremonies to honor Lithuanian citizens who saved Jews during the World War II. Constantly reporting public representations and ceremonies of the Holocaust, the newspaper emphasizes the need to remember the Shoah.
The theme of Holocaust remembrance is closely related to the descriptions of Jewish cultural heritage, its commemoration and preservation, the third major Jewish topic of LR. Lithuania, particularly Vilnius, had a lively and active pre-war Jewish community. The newspaper reported about the former Parliament member Emanuelis Zingeriss plan to restore the Vilnius Jewish Ghetto (unfortunately, the article was a summary of The Wall Street Journal article on Zingeris and his endevours).Similarly, the problems of Kalvarija municipality with the restoration of Sinagogues were reported.
Along with the restoration, revival and commemoration plans of Jewish culture, current activities of the Jewish community in Lithuania are being described. Headlines such as The Jewish Community will Celebrate Easter First, The Jewish Community of Lithuania Handed to the Ministry of Education ... 400 Copies of the Book Dispelled Myths or Jews Presented the Cardinal with Matzahs are frequent on the pages of LR.
As I showed in this brief overview, Jews merit the most substantial coverage in LR. The Jewish community and Lithuanian society are portrayed as tied to the past. Presenting the convergence of conflicting interpretations of the past LR, in my view, attempts to redefine public discourse concerning anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and historical trauma. It also alludes to the fact that willingness on both sides to accept the past and to be able to engage in a dialogue is a path to reconciliation and historical retribution.
According to the latest sociological survey, 62 % of Russians living in Estonia, 42 % Lithuanian Russians and 39% Latvian Russians trust their respective governments. 42% is the impressive number considering the dismal economic situation in Lithuania. How does the Lithuanian press conceive of the Russian minority in Lithuania?
There were a total of 22 stories about the people of Russian ethnicity living in Lithuania published in LR during the period of November 27, 2000, to May 9, 2001. Of those, 7 deal with active Lithuanian-Russian politicians, 9 with crimes, 4 with culture and education and 2 with historical justice.
To understand the media representations of Russian minority in Lithuania, one inevitably must remember the historical past, particularly the traumatic realities of the post-World War II period: the occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union, the extermination of Lithuanian citizens and their exile to Siberia. The Russians association with occupants and enemies still informs media conceptions of this ethnic minority. LR published articles on post-war political prisoners, victims of deportations to Siberia and their appeal to historical justice. In these reports the Russian KGB or NKVD agents figure prominently.
The stereotypical representations of Russians as agents of Russia, working on behalf of Russia or even the Russian mafia provoke irrational and passionate hostility towards Russians in the press. Recent scandals involving Lithuanian politicians of Russian descent only confirmed this prejudice. Although Lithuanian-Russian political figures are sometimes portrayed as actively participating in Lithuanian political life, there appeared many allegations in the press that they have been involved in anti-state activities. As LR reported, two Russian members of the Lithuanian parliament Sergejus Dmitrijevas and Vladimiras Orechovas made off to Minsk to meet with members of Belorussian National Assembly which is not recognized by any democratic country in the world. The newspaper reminded readers of the fact that both Members of the Parliament represent the Russian Union, and S.Dmitrijevas is the chairman of this party.  A month later, the same Dmitrijevas was accused by members of the Committee of Foreign Affairs in the Parliament for his close contacts with Russian and Belorussian diplomats. It was alleged that Dmitrijevas supplies diplomats with confidential and secret state information.
Even stronger blame was placed on a member of the Lithuanian Parlaiment Russian V.Tretjakov whose Russian-language newspaper "Litovskij kurjer" reprinted an article of Russian politician V. Alksnis advocating the territorial rights of Russia and Belorussia to the Lithuanian cities Klaipėda and Vilnius. Is the great Russian chauvinists incitement to destroy the Lithuanian state merely a different opinion that is neccessary to publicize in our country? It is difficult to get rid of suspicion that those who had reprinted V. Alksniss article share his views about Lithuania and its history, affirms the editorial reinforcing the negative clout that accompanies the Russian nationals.The same journalist, who blamed the Lithuanian government for not being firm on the issue of neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic propaganda, argues, in his article, that the Lithuanian Parliament is full of lobbyists for Russia. Naked hostility towards Russians sets the tone of this commentary.
The characteristic tone of all these articles and reports is one of relentless threat from the Russians who might subvert the Lithuanian government and join mother Russia.
Another example of the Russian menace is expressed in police reports. In these reports, Russians nationals are identified as unstable (committing suicides by jumping from windows), as members of criminal religious sects, and as prostitutes.Police reports commonly utilize the same brief references to criminals as The assailants spoke Russian The intruders spoke Lithuanian with a Russian accent. The tacit message is that while some criminals might be non-Russians, most criminals speak Russian or they speak Lithuanian with a Russian accent.
The interest of LR in conflicts, criminality and sensations overpowers other aspects of representations of Russians. During the researched period, only one article and one news report were devoted to education (Russian schools with Russian as the main language of instruction) and two news reports mentioned Russian culture in Lithuania (the Russian radio which operated without a license and the newspaper "Echo Litvy" which stopped publication due to financial difficulties and allegedly appealed to the Russian President Vladimir Putin for financial assistance).
The coverage of Russians in LR indicates charged encounters between Russian nationals and the Lithuanian press. The number of mixed messages about Russians suggests that representations of Russians in LR are intimately related to wider political, cultural and historical issues. But neither history nor the behavior of certain individuals should be accepted as an excuse for intolerant and stereotypical representations of the Russian minority.
Lithuanian Poles received the least press coverage, a total of 10 reports and stories. Lithuanian-Polish politicians accounted for 5 stories, education and politics for 3, cultural matters for 1 and the issue of Poles and Jews for 1.
What unites the attitude of the Lithuanians towards Russians and Poles is precisely the common history and historical wrongs committed against each other. The long common history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and continuous debates about common cultural icons and sites still leave Lithuanian society with an abundance of powerful and unresolved emotions towards Poles.
The Polish ethnic minority in Lithuania is one of the most vocal groups. Lithuanian Poles almost always receive wholehearted support and assistance from the government of Poland. That is why the sensitive issues of the Polish language and education, national and ethnic identity are extremely politicized and transformed into a problem facing the two states.
The focus of most articles is the educational policy in eastern Lithuania where the majority of Lithuanian Poles resides. As LR reported, a member of the Polish Parliament Tadeusz Wrona felt offended by a Lithuanian Parliamentarian who had issued a memorandum describing the tone of Polish politicians as rude and agressive. A Lithuanian politician wrote that in the meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Education of Lithuania the Polish Parliamentarians forcefully ordered what had to be done to reform the educational system of Lithuania. Evidenty, schools for Polish nationals and their reformation according to the Poles indications were at issue.
Similarly, in another report, the problems of the Polish minority were placed within a wider frame of cooperation between Poland and Lithuania. Poland agreed to go ahead with the bridge of electricity between two countries since, according to a Polish politician J. Buzek, the mood of the Polish minority in Lithuania has recently improved due to the inclusion of Polish nationals in the new government, the Parliament and to the gradual resolution of national minority problems.
In another report, the Commision of Ethics of the Lithuanian Parliament decided to reprimand Parliamentarian Gabriel Jan Mincewicz, who belongs to Polish Election Action, not to disseminate false facts about another member of the Parliament who supposedly took an anti-Polish stand on matters of education. The report also indicated that earlier Mincewicz stated that in Lithuania Polish children are discriminated against because very little attention is paid to their education. It should be mentioned that the former Minister of Education Zigmas Zinkevičius exacerbated political and cultural tensions between Poles and Lithuanians by arguing that Lithuanian Poles are in fact Polonized Lithuanians and that they just do not know it.
Political tensions dominating newspaper coverage overshadowed the remaining reports in LR on the activities of Polish politicians in their political parties and on the opening of the Center of Polish Culture in Vilnius and on the Poles who saved Jews during the World War II.
Sampled TV programs, unfortunately, indicate minimal presence of ethnic stories and characters in the mainstream programming. Ethnic minorities are still hardly ever mentioned in the major broadcast news programmes. This fact demonstrates that television fails to mirror the real proportion of Russians, Poles, Roma and Jews in the population of Lithuania.
Like sexual minorities, ethnic minorities are also almost invisible in the mainstream news and entertainment media.During the sampled week, only the evening magazine Sroves (Trends, broadcast at 7:15-8:15 on November 27, 2001, LNK) emphasized the ethnicity of its hero. The story focused on a bank robbery committed by a Lithuanian women and a Jewish man. According to the programme, the latter being an Israeli remained at large, while the former was sentenced to jail. During the story, Jewish ethnic music sounded in the background. The end of the story was also spiced with the energetic Jewish sounds.
Another notable example of ethnic representation on Lithuanian television is a weekly comedy show ZbTV (broadcast at 19:45-20:15 on November 26, 2001, LNK). It features the main character Zbignievas whose name is Polish and who speaks Lithuanian with the ridiculous Polish-Russian accent. This show repeatedly constructs Polish-Lithuanian or Polish-Russian culture (which is the right answer is unclear) as a socially backward. Although Zbignievas is the star of the show, his efforts to present himself as member of a higher class fail miserably, and a sense of ambivalence and unease ensues. Zbignievass ethnicity is presented as a genuine camp performance. His physical appearance and speech patterns are designed to invoke the comic effect. It can be argued that ZbTV reproduces the traditional stereotype of a declassed person of Polish-Russian origins as a pathetic and comic figure.
What do these representations say about the representers and the imagined viewers of these representations?
The Lithuanian press and television do not present a uniform conception of the issue ofethnic and sexual minorities. As I have demonstrated, there is a lack of in-depth reporting on ethnic and sexual groups in the Lithuanian mass media. Minority groups share relative invisibility and one-sided stereotypical representations. Representations, though primarily discursive, have real material consequences and correlates. It can be argued that by not paying nearly enough attention to ethnic and sexual minorities in the everyday situations, the mass media participate in their marginalization.
As I have demonstrated, sexual minorities remain a difficult topic and an extremely sensitive issue since it deals with societal values, norms and sexuality. Therefore, homosexuality is frequently described as a scandal, and homosexuals are still portrayed as an underworld unfamiliar to mass population.
Homosexuality is still strongly associated with sexual promiscuity and deviance. Although there is little violently abusive terminology in Lithuanian newspapers, the trend is to ridicule and diminish homosexuals (such as in the headline Lithuanian Gays will Prance to Vienna). TV entertainment programs emphasize the comic and ridiculous sides of gay characters. This consistent reflection of stereotyped representations of gays and lesbians is further reinforced by the virtual absence of alternative role models to counteract the stereotype.
As we have seen, the Lithuanian press has been very slow to validate news about gay issues. The media generally play insufficient attention to the problems and discrimination suffered by sexual minorities. Serious representations of homosexuals as minorities were infrequent. Gay events and opinions covered in the papers were overwhelmingly trivialized (for instance, G. Garbo Blackmailed her Lover, Robin Hood was Supposedly Gay).
It is symptomatic that when asked whether the Lithuanian mass media adequately, objectively, and comprehensively cover the life of Lithuanian and foreign gays and lesbians, 84% of respondents who identified themselves as gay or bisexual responded negatively.
According to my analysis, the low numbers and visibility of Romani, Poles, Russians and Jews in the press and on television are also at issue. Close reading of the most popular daily and TV programmes reveals an undercurrent xenophobia in a large part of news reports and broadcasts. The bad news focus is overwhelming: most newspaper reports and TV broadcasts focus on some minority member who committed a crime. Much less attention is paid to stories about minorities experiencing problems, prejudice, racism or unimployment.
Roma people merit the worst representations as the least socially integrated, criminal and exotic group. LR frequently refers to the Roma minority as criminal, deviant, socially insecure, inscrutable, and manipulative. In the police reports published in the newspaper, the ethnicity of Roma is always emphasized.
Russians receive mixed coverage. On the one hand, they are shown as active participants in Lithuanian political life. On the other hand, their political behavior is described as threatening and serving the interests of foreign powers. As in the case of the Roma, news reports about crimes stress the Russian nationality of criminals. LR proves Teun A. van Dijks contention that in the press ethnic minorities are systematically associated with conflict, crime, intolerance and [unreliability] (as we saw in the case of Roma people and Russians).
The representations of the Polish minority in LR focus on the extremely politicized problem of education. From these representations, Poles emerge as a self-conscious national minority that requires special status and rights.
Jews receive the most multi-sided coverage in the biggest Lithuanian daily: coverage of Jewish-related issues ranges from detailed descriptions of anti-Semitism in Lithuanian society to news about Jewish celebrations and cultural events, from Holocaust commemorations to the trials of war criminals.
It can be argued that the Lithuanian mass media describe ethnicity as problematic and not as a positive quality of a multicultural society. Minority members are rarely consulted on the problems concerning them.The evidence gathered in my research on ethnic and sexual minorities indicates that media images tend to define these groups within the narrow confines of stereotypical representations. The discussed stereotypes are insufficiently counteracted by alternative portrayals which reflect the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society.
Towards a New Politics of Citizenship: Some Initial Notes About Policy Problems
In his book The Matter of Images: Essays on Representation, Richard Dyer has affirmed that the treatment of a certain group in life depends to a large degree by the way it is treated in cultural representation. How a group is represented determines in part how it is treated. In other words, negative representations delimit what people belonging to a minority can be in any given society. A similar idea has been forward by Marguerite J. Moritz who, writing about sexual minorities, argued that
When the news media and I use this term to refer to the quality press represent a topic with which the mass audience may have limited personal experience, ... the message is particularly potent because many audience members have no way of independently or critically judging the validity of the news account and the many messages it may carry.
The mass media industries mediating different cultural meanings, values and tastes increasingly help to set the rules, norms and conventions by which social life is ordered and governed. Hence, the issue of representational practices acquires an immense significance. For minority groups a struggle for fair and equitable representations is a question of getting new terms established to describe who they are.
How can a dominant regime of representation in the Lithuanian mass media be challenged, contested or changed? What are the counter-strategies that can begin to subvert the current representational process? What are the ways of designing an effective politics of representation in the Lithuanian mass media? What conclusions can be drawn from the available evidence and finally, what research and policy implications ensue from the collected information?
Efforts to improve the media coverage of ethnic and sexual minorities need to be understood in the larger context of the practices of the mass media and professional codes that guide the standards of Lithuanian journalism. Therefore, it is necessary to raise the awareness both of the majority and of the minority population of all aspects related to racism, xenophobia and homophobia in the mass media. We need to improve information to the general public about ethnic and sexual minorities so as to preempt the social reproduction of negative stereotypes and myths. This should be done through research, education, and publicity compaigns in the media. With respect to two areas -- research and policy development -- I propose the following initial measures.
Since the Lithuanian mass media industrys awareness of minority issues is fairly limited, a monitoring group consisting of media scholars and professionals on media and intolerance has to be established. This group is to examine the media and propose measures against the dissemination of racist, homophobic and intolerant views in the media. It is to conduct a continued analysis of the portrayals of ethnic and sexual minorities in various media. This research will serve academics, advocates, and the media industry as an assessment tool that measures progress on the representations of diversity over time. It can benefit the cause of responsible media representation of race and ethnicity and can raise awareness among media professionals and the public as to what they are being shown and what they are not shown.
Ultimately, this monitoring group will suggest a number of more concrete provisions to be included in the media law to combat the expression and dissemination of racist and intolerant opinions in the media. It will also developguidelines for the coverage of ethnic and sexual minorities addressing 1) individual journalists and educators 2) media organizations, 3) governmental bodies such as the Department of National Minorities and Émigrés for the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and the Committee on Human Rights at the Lithuanian Parliament, 4) and minority organizations.
To combat media images insulting and demeaning to minorities we need to work with those who directly produce and write the media material. Seminars and training courses for journalists and managers of media organizations on ethnic and sexual minority matters have to be organized from time to time. Each seminar may issue a number of action proposals aimed at improving, in particular via self-regulation and professional standards, the ways in which ethnic and sexual minorities are depicted in the Lithuanian mass media. To encourage the press and telemedia to combat racism, xenophobia and homophobia through comprehensive coverage of minority issues, prizes to distinguished examples of media coverage of this area may be awarded.
Since the representations of ethnic and sexual minorities have been both insufficient and considered trivial, these minority groups should aim at both their quantitative and qualitative representations in the press. It does not suffice to contest negative images of ethnic and sexual minorities in order to transform representation practices around sexual differences in a more positive direction. By challenging many of the medias representational practices, it is possible to come to terms with the dehumanizing language of othering and exclusion. It is only by reexamining and questioning our own prejudices that we can overcome dominant ways of constructing ethnic and sexual minorities and can reverse the pernicious impact of stereotypical representations on the knowledge and behavior of Lithuanian society. However, to move towards non-phobic representations of minority groups, it is necessary to struggle for legitimate and affirming inclusion of ethnic and sexual minorities in the public sphere.
The publicity strategies of minorities should focus both on mainstream media and on cultivating alternative public spheres. Representatives of minority groups should continue to press upon the media professionals their claims for equitable and respectful treatment. Activists should stress the responsibility and accountability of the press in facilitating cultural awareness and understanding and in addressing social and cultural issues that are critical to the Lithuanian society. To correct the prejudices and misrepresentations offered by the mainstream Lithuanian press and television, one needs to develop alternative interpretations of ethnicity and homosexuality and to create counterarguments for those engaging in the hegemonic public spheres.
To fight the exclusion and symbolic disadvantage of minorities, we need to promote a politics of recognition that allows space for representational diversity and encourages more complex and sophisticated representations of minority communities. There is therefore a strong educational and moral case for including the neglected or distorted experiences of ethnic and sexual minorities into the media narratives of a multi-cultural citizenship. As Bhikhu Parekh has noted, since different cultural communities in a multicultural society sometimes have different needs, a collectively acceptable form of multiculturalism must acknowledge and accommodate those differences.
The media should be a countervailing agency within a framework that ensures representation of all interests. In compensating for the inferior resources and skills of subordinate groups the media should advocate and voice their interests by comparison with dominant groups. In James Currans words, the democratic media system should represent all significant interests in society. It should assist the equitable negotiation or arbitration of competing interests through democratic processes.
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