Human Rights in the Newsroom

Content

This module covers Section 2 of the toolkit. Section 2 includes the following sections:

Part 1: Media, journalism and human rights

Part 2: Human rights in the newsroom

Part 3: Human rights and gender-sensitive reporting

Part 4: Human rights controversies

Part 5: How to interview

Part 6: Interviewing official sources

Part 7: Interviewing activists and NGOs

Part 8: Using anonymous sources

Part 9: Interviewing torture survivors

Part 10: Interviewing rape survivors

Part 11: Covering elections

Part 12: Digital security for human rights reporters

Training outcomes:

By the end of Module 2, trainees will:

  • Have a deeper understanding of the role of media in relation to human rights.
  • Have a deeper understanding of their role as journalists.
  • Define their own roles in relation to human rights reporting.
  • Define journalism and understand the values of good journalism.
  • Be able to decide what is and isn’t newsworthy.
  • Be able to apply the principles of gender sensitive reporting.
  • Conduct interviews sensitively with official sources, activists, and survivors of human rights violations, including torture and rape victims.
  • Be able to use anonymous sources with greater confidence.
  • Be able to assess sources.

Process guidelines

This module includes a combination of journalism theory and practice. There are many activities and role-plays. Trainers should consider inviting one or two external people to attend sessions on interviewing so that trainees can practice interviewing and / or to work through issues relating to being interviewed. Another useful exercise is a mock media conference with a government official. There are a variety of useful resources to illustrate different themes that can be found on the Internet. Some suggestions are included in Appendix E.

Time

Set aside at least three days to cover this module.

The proposed times for sessions and activities are a guide, and trainers will arrange time according to their needs, the trainees’ level of skill and experience, and the length of the course.

There are six sessions in this module, each lasting about three hours (excluding breaks).

The aim is to complete two sessions a day over three days. If each day is more or less eight hours, this leaves two hours for breaks.

Sessions

Session 1

Role of media in relation to human rights; human rights and journalism; ethical journalism and news values (3 hours)

Broad aims

  • To introduce Module 2
  • To understand the role of media and journalists in relation to human rights
  • For trainees to understand their special role and approach to human rights journalism
  • To link the values of journalism to human rights and human rights reporting
  • To work through news values
  • To practice pitching a story

Trainer

Lead journalism trainer, supported by human rights trainer and technical trainers.

Suggested external “expert”

For the two Activities -- What’s newsworthy? and Practice a News Pitch, below, invite the news editor of a respected local publication or broadcaster to hear the story pitches, and quiz the trainees about their stories. Alternately, the lead journalism trainer can “role-play”/appoint one or more group members to role-play the news editor’s position.

Key materials

Reporting on Human Rights Issues: A Toolkit for Journalists; Internet-enabled computers and PPP projector; variety of digital recording and other media production equipment as needed.

Summary Duration Activity

Introduce the module

15 min

Lead journalism trainer introduces Module 2 and the outline for Module 2 (all six sessions). Points to expectations listed in the introductory session at the beginning of Module 1, and suggests where in Module 2 specific expectations are likely to be met.

The role of media in relation to human rights

20 min

Lead trainer presents – for key points, see Appendix F (extracted from Toolkit, Section 2 Part 1 (Media’s relationship to human rights issues).

Activity – What kind of journalist am I?

30 min

Working in small groups, trainees discuss different approaches to journalism. For suggested handout for this Activity, see Appendix G.

Using the toolkit to teach values of journalism

10 min

Using the toolkit, and referring to the examples of codes of ethics and values in Section 2 Part 2 (The Star and IFJ), lead trainer briefly recaps the values of journalism, drawing links to human rights (especially freedom of expression and information rights).

Activity – What’s newsworthy? / Practice pitching your newsworthy story idea to your news editor

90 min

Brainstorm with the group – What are news values? Hand out local examples of stories clipped from recent newspapers and ask trainees (working in pairs) to think of a strong follow-up idea with a human rights angle, and – using the key criteria for “newsworthiness” generated during the brainstorm and listed in the toolkit, Section 2 Part 2, prepare a “pitch” for a news editor. Pitch the story to the news editor. See Appendix H for suggested guide to pitching the story. In this session, it is useful to invite a news editor from a respected local publication to speak about how decisions about “newsworthiness” are made and to hear and ‘interrogate’ the pitches. Alternately, the lead trainer can role play the news editor position.

Closing

15 min

Close the session, final comments and feedback. Point to where expectations have been met.

Session 2

Interviewing (3 hours)

Broad aims

  • To build interviewing skills for good human rights journalism
  • Identifying and assessing primary and secondary sources
  • Understanding the pros and cons of using anonymous sources

Trainer

Lead journalism trainer, supported by human rights trainer and technical trainers.

Key materials

Reporting on Human Rights Issues: A Toolkit for Journalists; Internet-enabled computers and PPP projector; variety of digital recording and other media production equipment as needed.

Summary Duration Activity

Activity – Sharing experience of interviewing: good and bad experiences

30 min

Trainer asks trainees to think back on their experiences conducting interviews, and to recall their “best” and “worst” interviews. Trainer asks individuals to volunteer to recount experiences (not everyone will want to) and say why they thought the experience was good / bad. Trainer stimulates discussion in the group about the stories, asking questions like how do you think s/he could have improved, etc.

The 5 Ws + H and interviewing to construct human rights stories and draw out human rights angles to stories

20 min

Trainer gives brief presentation on “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How” as the basis for all good interviews in journalism and links to human rights (See Toolkit, Section 2 Part 5 (The 5Ws and H)).

Questions and discussion with group.

Primary and secondary sources

20 min

Trainer gives brief introduction to primary and secondary sources and different interviewing approaches.

Activity – Primary and secondary sources

20 min

Trainer provides example of 2 or 3 local incidents. In small groups, trainees draft lists of primary sources they would interview and secondary sources they would research. Trainees share results.

Golden rule of journalism – assess your sources

20 min

Trainer uses the Toolkit, Section 2 Part 5 and encourages trainees to work through that section.

Activity – Anonymous sources

55 min

Two groups of trainees prepare to debate the pros and cons of using anonymous sources. One group takes the position that you should never use anonymous sources; the other takes the position that there are times when it is necessary to use anonymous sources. Each group should give at least five good arguments and a couple of examples to illustrate their argument. Refer to Toolkit, Section 2 Part 8.

Closing

15 min

Trainer sums up; takes feedback and comments; notes where expectations have and have not been met.

Session 3

Interviewing – learning from others’ experience, and practice (3 hours)

Broad aims

  • Introduce trainees to the various interviewing guides and tips in the manual. Work through these with them. Toolkit, Section 2, Parts 6 - 10
  • Demonstrate interviews with different kinds of people journalists are likely to encounter when covering human rights – survivors/witnesses of rights abuses, perpetrators, official/government sources, activists
  • In-depth work on interviewing survivors of human rights abuses
  • Practice interviewing through role plays

Trainer

Lead journalism trainer, supported by human rights trainer and technical trainers. Invite at least one respected, senior journalist to give input on a real-life experience of covering a human rights issue, including interviews. Alternatively, make use of online training resources. See Appendix E.

Key materials

Reporting on Human Rights Issues: A Toolkit for Journalists; Internet-enabled computers and PPP projector; variety of digital recording and other media production equipment as needed.

Summary Duration Activity

Introduce the module

40 min

Trainer will talk about the kinds of people journalists are likely to encounter when covering human rights issues. Refer to guides in the toolkit, Questions and discussion; draw on trainees interviewing experience (e.g. who has interviewed an activist – tell us about the experience; same for perpetrators, survivors, etc.).

Interviewing survivors of human rights abuses

90 min

Show BBC training video (See Appendix E – BBC College of Journalism: Interviewing victims). Trainees make notes. Follow with discussion.

OR invite one or two survivors of human rights abuses to speak about their trauma and experience with the media. The key questions for the trauma survivor/s would be: Given your experience, what kinds of questions should/shouldn’t journalists ask you? How should media integrate the human rights into your story?

Activity – Develop an interview guide

20 min

In small groups, trainees develop short interview guides (no more than five questions) for people who have suffered different kinds of abuse, e.g. rape, torture, eviction from home, disability stigma, child labor, forced marriage, racism. The trainer can decide and create approximately five scenarios that are likely in the local political and social context.

Activity – Role play

30 min

This activity follows from the above. Assign interviewee/interviewer roles to trainees, using the same scenarios as above, and test the interview guides. Focus also on issues such as manner, body language, management of equipment, etc.

Session 4

Interviewing continues – learning from others’ experience, and practice (3 hours). In-depth work on interviewing officials and perpetrators

Broad aims

  • Building capacity to interview official sources and perpetrators of human rights abuses
  • Learning from others’ experience
  • Practice interviewing

Trainer

Lead journalism trainer, supported by human rights trainer and technical trainers. Draw on external resources – see Appendix E.

Key materials

Reporting on Human Rights Issues: A Toolkit for Journalists; Internet-enabled computers and PPP projector; variety of digital recording and other media production equipment as needed.

Summary Duration Activity

Interviewing officials and perpetrators

30 min

Trainer discusses with trainees guidelines for interviewing officials and perpetrators. Refer to Toolkit, Section 2 Part 6 (Interviewing officials)and Part 11 (interviewing perpetrators).

Holding the powerful to account

90 min

Show BBC training video (See Appendix E: BBC College of Journalism: Holding power to account, approx. about 1 hour long – can be broken into clips.) Follow with discussion. Alternately, invite a respected local journalist to tell the groups about his/her experience of interviewing officials and / or perpetrators of human rights violations.

Activity – Develop an interview guide

20 min

In small groups, trainees develop short interview guides (no more than five questions) for an official and a perpetrator. The trainer can create approximately five scenarios that are likely in the local political and social context and allocate to the groups.

Activity – Role play

40 min

This activity follows from the above. Assign interviewee/interviewer roles to trainees, using the same scenarios as above, and test the interview guides. Focus also on issues such as manner, body language, management of equipment, etc.

Session 5

Interviewing continues – learning from others’ experience, and practice (3 hours). In-depth work on the NGO sector and interviewing activists

Broad aims

  • Build understanding of the Human Rights NGO sector (NGOs roles and working methods; agendas and bias)
  • Interviewing activists
  • Practice media conference

Trainer

Lead journalism trainer, supported by human rights trainer and technical trainers.

Key materials

Reporting on Human Rights Issues: A Toolkit for Journalists; Internet-enabled computers and PPP projector; variety of digital recording and other media production equipment as needed.

Summary Duration Activity

Activity – Brainstorm/NGO who’s who?

20 min

Brainstorm with trainees to generate a list of human rights NGOs working in the local context. The list should include:

  • Name of NGO
  • Human rights focus area/s
  • What the NGO does (primary work approach/method: victim support; advocacy; campaigning; investigation/exposure)
  • Political interest/agenda; messaging and bias.

Particular issues relating to interviewing representatives of NGOs and activists

20 min

Refer to Toolkit, Section 2 Part 7.

Activity – Building contact list

30 min

Conduct research, go online – build a list of local NGO contacts for stories on a variety of human rights issues. Refer to worksheet for Section 2 Part 7: (Use this space!)

Activity – Media conference on short notice

110 min

Mock media conference on short notice – trainer informs trainees that they have been called to a press conference with a senior representative of an NGO who has an important announcement on a particular hot topic. Trainer to set up to suit local context. Run the media conference and follow-up according to Appendix I.

Session 6

Gender sensitive reporting; dealing with controversy

Broad aims

  • Sensitize journalists to their role in promoting gender equality
  • Develop strategies for dealing with controversy
  • Conclude Module 2

Trainer

Lead journalism trainer, supported by human rights trainer and technical trainers.

Key materials

Reporting on Human Rights Issues: A Toolkit for Journalists; Internet-enabled computers and PPP projector; variety of digital recording and other media production equipment as needed.

Summary Duration Activity

Gender bias in the media

30 min

Refer to the Toolkit, Section 2 Part 3. Present based on this section, also referring back to the training session in Module 1 about CEDAW. Stress the importance of gender equality to create a positive human rights environment across all rights regardless of disability, race, abuse, migrant worker status, etc. Refer to the power of media to do good or harm and describe how media can work against gender equality.

Activity – Analyze local media for gender bias

40 min

Invite trainees to challenge the statement: Most stories in the media are about men and quote men (Toolkit, Section 2 Part 3). In groups, participants analyze different newspapers to try to challenge the statement, and report back. Discuss. For the discussion, ask: What can be done to counter male bias in the media.

Refer to the toolkit

20 min

Work through Tackling the problems in the Toolkit, Section 2 Part 3

Activity – Refer to the toolkit

30 min

Work through the exercises on gender in the media Toolkit, Section 2 Part 3. Trainers can localize these exercises as needed.

Activity – Everyone has bias: human rights controversies

40 min

Refer to Toolkit, Section 2 Part 4, which identifies key controversies. Ask trainees to identify local customs / norms that conflict with international human rights standards. Select three or four of these and ask trainees to reflect on their feelings and decide where they stand. Discuss how they would deal with their particular bias in a real life situation where an international human rights standard was involved.

Closing

20 min

Sum up Module 2. Point to key learning about human rights journalism and interviewing. Identify which expectations have and have not been met. Take questions, comments and feedback.