SEAN PENN’S CAREER as a journalist is not without its achievements. Over the years, Penn has scored interviews with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Raúl Castro of Cuba. He has pushed up against authoritarian governments, like the time in 2005 when he had his camera confiscated by Iranian officials while on assignment in Tehran for The San Francisco Chronicle.
Article 220 of the Brazilian Constitution guarantees that the “manifestation of thought, creation, expression and information, in any form, process or medium shall not be subject to any restriction.” Further, “no law shall contain any provision which may represent a hindrance to full freedom of press,” and “any and all censorship of a political, ideological and artistic nature is forbidden.”
When it comes to daily life, however, Brazilian journalists face something quite a bit different. Is there press freedom? Yes, to a certain extent. However, in addition to internal rules set out by the media organizations, the freedom to report certain facts or issues is often hampered or distorted in order to serve certain external interests.
Captions are journalism, too. They should be fact-checked and typo-checked. They should be complete sentences that present the who, what, where, when and (sometimes) why without necessarily stating the obvious (i.e., he sits, she waves, they clap). Captions give photos context, telling viewers what’s going on in a photo so they don’t have to guess or jump to conclusions.
From the Greek island of Lesbos, to the sea between Thailand and Malaysia. From train tracks in Mexico to dusty camps in South Sudan. Over the past year, AFP blogs has published scores of stories on the refugee crisis all over the world, in which the agency’s journalists recount covering the tragedy.
It has been a testing year for journalism. It began with 10 journalists and cartoonists among those killed byterrorists in the unconscionable massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Within hours the EJN published an article advising journalists to defend free speech but also to lower the temperature, to eliminate hate speech and to avoid encouraging acts of revenge or abuse of Muslims. We called for “slow journalism” and for newsrooms to think carefully about how to handle the story.
The Paris events triggered much talk in media circles over free speech, self-censorship and ethical responsibility. And the EJN was at the centre of this debate. We published a second article urging journalists to rely on their codes and editorial traditions when reporting terrorism, to avoid propaganda traps set by media-savvy extremists and, above all, to tell the story with humanity.