Monday, November 9, 2015

Dr. Nilufer Pembecioglu, Univ of Istanbul
Reporting Syrian Refugees:
Words Matter

MALATYA, TURKEY--Should journalists here in central Turkey use phrases like "our Syrian brothers" or "our guests" to describe Syrian refugees? The use of such language, and whether it is considerate or condescending, was central to the discussion this morning at a peace journalism workshop being held here.

The workshop, "Reporting Syrian Refugees: Building Communities of Understanding," was held before a packed house of 50 journalists, students, and academics. It's being sponsored by the U.S. State Department, the University of Istanbul, and the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University.

Opening presentations included an overview of peace journalism, a look at narrative theory and militarism vs. anti-militarism in the media, and a fascinating study of Turkish media presented by an academic from a Malatya university. This study examined media coverage of refugees in the region, and found that it varied according to location. At Gaziantep, on the border, refugees were mostly presented negatively, while here in Malatya, the coverage is more neutral.

The afternoon of day one of the workshop concluded with the screening of a film, "The Children of War," as well as discussion of principles and challenges in reporting refugees.

Classroom sessions continue tomorrow, to be followed by a visit to a Syrian refugee camp on Wednesday.

--Click here to see photo album of day one of the conference, as well as the sights around Malatya (horse farm, Turkish Grand Canyon).

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