Ethical Journalism Network Newsletter – 29 March 2016

 

News

Terror attacks put journalists’ ethics on the frontline

James Rodgers, City University London

The attacks on Brussels on March 22 were a reminder of why [the “war on terror” is such a huge test for journalists]. Journalists find themselves at the centre of events as never before. The bombers struck at soft targets to inspire fear. That fear spread as the coverage continued. Without the coverage – or at least if there had been less of it – would the attackers’ aim have been frustrated? Perhaps so. But even if the authorities had requested that, it would have been wrong to agree.

As [Peter] Greste noted, journalists find themselves at the centre of conflict as never before. Not just war, but political battles, and “anti-terrorist operations”. They are targets. Islamic State beheads them. Others seek to co-opt them.

Ethical dilemmas emerge. In July 2005, I was among the BBC editors who agreed to a reporting blackout as police closed in on the suspects in a series of failed suicide bombings. The idea was that live TV coverage might have tipped off the wanted men. Was it right to do the authorities’ bidding?

Read the full article here. (The Conversation – republished on the EJN)

Using Twitter and Facebook images of tragedies raises ethical dilemmas

If you looked across social media as news of the Brussels attacks unfolded last week, you would have seen that within minutes of the first reports of explosions at Zaventem airport, people were lashing out. At commentators for using the attack to make a political point. At Twitter for suspending the account of a Belgian expert on terrorism by accident. At a man who tweeted that he’d “confronted” a Muslim woman about the attacks.

And plenty of the lashing out was at journalists, especially those contacting members of the public to see if images they had posted of the attack were available for re-use.

Read the full article here. (Guardian)

Media and migration, covering the refugee crisis

Although many media have focused on humanistic reporting and on telling the stories of refugees, very few journalists are trained to cover this issue ‘ with important consequences. These were some of the conclusions of media experts who gathered on 18 March in Paris to discuss about Media and Migration, during a thematic debate organized by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

Read the full article here. (Big News Network)

The article quotes our Director, who spoke at the event:

Across all countries, ‘media have been manipulated by political leaders, too often accepting their outrageous statements’ added Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network which has recently published ‘Moving Stories’, an international review of how media cover migration.

You can also read EJN’s review of the UNESCO event here.

 

How one family became faces for the Syrian refugee crisis

After an Assad regime mortar assault leveled their neighborhood in Homs in early 2012, Hussam and Suha Al Roustom fled with their two children to another part of town. Then, as the city in western Syria further devolved into chaos in 2013, the family escaped for Jordan in the back of a pickup truck, eventually hiking through the night to cross the Syrian-Jordanian border. They lived in cramped, metal trailers at two refugee camps, often without electricity or running water, as they underwent a yearlong vetting process for resettlement. Finally, after extensive interviews and background checks, they were cleared to move to the United States,where they hoped to build a new life.

Read the full article here. (CJR)

Framing conflict and war – the Cold War and after

The media – whether mainstream or the ubiquitous social media – is the main source of news and information about conflicts and war, especially those in distant lands. Few people directly witness or are able to directly research the nature, causes and consequences of conflicts. They rely on the media to help them better understand war and why it is being waged.

With the best will in the world and the most balanced and informed journalists media outlets cannot ever give a fully accurate and totally balanced account but they can do their best to select the most important facts and present them as clearly and impartially as possible with interpretations based on verified information.

Read the full article here. (EJN)

For more on the ethics of covering conflicts see:

Instant judgments and distant editors, the problems of reporting Africa

 

Journalists at war, from Crimean War to Ukraine Crisis

Associated Press wins 2016 Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics

The Associated Press has won the 2016 Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics for reporting that resulted in the freeing of 2,000 slave laborers used by the fishing industry in Southeast Asia.

Read the full article here. (University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Journalism Ethics)

 

Dündar/Gül trial – RSF opposes Erdogan’s “autocratic retribution”

Dündar, Cumhuriyet’s editor, and Gül, the newspaper’s Ankara bureau chief, are facing the possibility of life imprisonment over their revelations about Turkish arms deliveries to Islamist groups in Syria ­– revelations of crucial importance for all those interested in the repercussions of the Syrian conflict and in terrorism. A constitutional court ruling ended their pre-trial detention in February, after three months, but President Erdogan said he would not respect this decision.

“The trial of Dündar and Gül is a test for the rule of law in Turkey,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We are stunned by President Erdogan’s repeated intervention in this case since personally filing the original complaint, showing that it has all the characteristics of an autocratic retribution. “The conditional release of Dündar and Gül was encouraging but everything is just beginning. We urge the court to dismiss the absurd charges that have been brought against these two journalists.”

Read the full article here. (RSF)

US scientific retractions rise to nearly 700 a year

The number of retracted scientific articles jumped from 500 in Fiscal Year 2014 to 684 in Fiscal Year 2015 — an increase of 37%. But in the same time period, the number of citations indexed for MEDLINE — about 806,000 — has only increased by 5%, according to data from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Read the full article here. (Retraction Watch)

Materials

МОВА ВОРОЖНЕЧІ ТА ЗМІ: МІЖНАРОДНІ СТАНДАРТИ ТА ПІДХОДИ / Hate speech and media: International standards and approaches

The Ethical Journalism Network’s work on hate-speech has been translated into Ukrainian by the Social Action Centre’s No Borders Project which brings together activists who are interested in the right to freedom of movement, assistance to asylum seekers and refugees in Ukraine and countering xenophobia and racism in Ukrainian society.

Read the translation here.

Report

EJN Annual Report 2015 Migration, Hate Speech and Ethical Journalism for Free Expression

This report on the work of the Ethical Journalism Network in 2015 covers a period of heightened political tensions and global crisis in which the key elements of EJN work – to strengthen the capacity of journalists to provide information that is reliable, timely and laced with humanity – have been in more demand than ever. The year began with the journalists and cartoonists killed by terrorists 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 calling on media to lower the temperature, avoid stereotypes and to report sensitively. We called for “slow journalism” and for newsrooms to think carefully about how to handle the story. It was a theme we returned to as the year continued with fresh challenges for journalists – conflict in the Middle East; a continuing information crisis in Europe around the confrontation over Ukraine; rising nationalism, propaganda and bellicose political rhetoric in East Asia; and a headline-grabbing migration and refugee crisis which touched almost every corner of the world. During these months the EJN intensified its work in support of media actions to counter hate-speech. We have also continued to work with others in developing tools for journalists and providing information aimed at improving media quality across all platforms of journalism. Our targeted actions in all regions of the world are set out in the calendar of major events and activity report.

Read the full EJN annual report here.

Activities

Advice for journalists on how to cover the Brussels terrorist attacks

For over a year the Ethical Journalism Network has been raising the alarm to journalists, media activists and policymakers about the threat posed by sensationalist coverage of terrorist attacks, such as those in Brussels today which have killed dozens of people.

Here we have collated the best coverage and advice to media and journalists from around the web about how to avoid media sensationalism and spreading toxic messages which may aide the propaganda war being waged by terrorist and extremist groups.

Read the full article here. (EJN)