Sunday, May 24, 2015

Turkish journalists, students dissect ethics of refugee reporting

(Istanbul, Turkey)—Even after four months, the journalists who visited Syrian refugee camps and tent cities in Adana, Turkey are still trying to figure out the best way to tell the refugees’ stories using the principles of peace journalism.

Our Peace Journalism Summit, which began today at the University of Istanbul, brought together
Controversial photo--Should media have used this?
those journalists and students who went into the field to report about refugees in January. Each of the journalists and student journalists took turns talking about how to best tell the story of these Syrians.
The most animated discussion centered on the ethics of using the photo you see here of a small child. In published reports, the photographer said that the child mistook his camera for a gun. The symbolism of the war-weary child is powerful indeed. Most of the summit participants said it was fine to use the picture if parental consent is obtained. One participant suggested blurring the child’s face. Another correctly pointed out that if peace journalists are destined to stir an indifferent public into action, there can be no better tool than this picture.

Another group of participants analyzed an online photo essay called, insensitively, “The joy of Syrian children finding fruit in the garbage.” It features pictures of dumpster-diving children. The seminar participants agreed that this essay was dehumanizing and insensitive, and lacked the kind of context and analysis that we expect in peace journalism.

PJ Summit, Day One participants
Finally, students from Cukurova University in Adana discussed their experiences in the camps and refugee tent cities last January. There were several excellent story ideas/research produced by the students. Two excellent angles were a story about the lack of playgrounds and recreation facilities in the Adana refugee camp, and another story about the difficulties older refugee teens have in matriculating to universities here in Turkey. Both stories offer counter-narratives to the typical negative, stereotyping reporting done about refugees in the Turkish media.

The summit continues through Tuesday at the University of Istanbul’s communications department.

No comments:

Post a Comment