Promoting an insider’s view of Parisian suburbs

Author: Kaspar Björkman

This article is part of Changing the Narrative. Articles in this series are written by student or early-career journalists who took part in The Local’s training course on solutions-focused migration reporting. Find out more about the project here.

In Seine-Saint-Denis, a départment with a long history of immigration, the birth rate is higher, and the population is younger than the regional average. In 2015, two-thirds of children born there had at least one parent with an immigrant background. These suburbs are central talking points in the public debate around immigration.

During the autumn, 57 photographs from the Parisian suburbs with captions starting with “My neighborhood is also… ” were posted on Instagram as part of what Bonheur intended as a competition of anti-stereotypes, an initiative aiming to highlight different sides of the suburbs.

Divina Frau-Meigs, a professor at the Sorbonne university in Paris specializing in media content, representations, users, and reception, has followed the depiction of the Parisian suburbs.

She says that the media coverage has come a long way since the riots of 2005, which pushed the president at the time to target the areas with more public policy. Then, coverage often played on stereotypes of disenfranchised, lawless zones where social inclusion is minimal, and she says there has already been a lot of positive change.

Banlieue is not featured so much anymore, they have stopped being a sort of black spot of French media coverage. There is much more documentation that is positive about what young people in those suburbs are doing.”

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