The Centre for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) in collaboration with The International Committee of the Red Cross Pakistan organized a two-day ‘Humanitarian Reporting Workshop’from August 21 – 22, 2017 aimed at improving the standards of humanitarian reporting.
This was the first of its kind to be organized in Pakistan. The training was attended by 18 print, broadcast and digital journalists from various media organizations across the country.
The workshopwas led by Mahim Maher, News Editor, The Friday Times, with guest lectures by CEJ Director Kamal Siddiqi, ICRC Delegate to Armed and Security Forces Konstantinos Mortopoulos, and ICRC Pakistan Communications Coordinator/SpokespersonNajum Abbasi.
“The strength of journalism is that anyone can be a journalist; that is also its weakness,” said Siddiqi, highlighting the challenges faced by journalists while reporting on humanitarian crises in the digital age, and stressing the need for accurate and responsible reporting.
The training emphasized critical skills when reporting during humanitarian crises, with sessions on media ethics; first steps in responding to a disaster; humanitarian action and reporting in the age of citizen journalism and digital media, and gender in humanitarian situations.
In the workshop, Maher stressed on the need to tell stories effectively: “For storytelling, I ask reporters to go into so much detail that they can tell me how much sugar the victim put in her tea.”
Gibran Ashraf of The Express Tribune spoke on mobile journalism and introduced the participants to powerful and innovative ways of telling stories.
Highlighting the problems of miscommunication between humanitarian organizations and local media during disaster situations, ICRC spokesperson Abbasi stressed the need to have more regular interaction with local media instead of only contacting them during the humanitarian crises.
“Humanitarian organizations and media should understand that both have a common goal of providing means to the affected people to take meaningful decisions about their lives – whether through information or relief,” added Abbasi.
In this vein, Ajay Kumar of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority highlighted the mandate, structure and challenges of his organization.
The workshop combined global standards of ethics and reporting on humanitarian crises with issues specific to Pakistan.
Urban planner and architect Arif Hasan spoke on how to approach communities in crises situations and former irrigation secretary Idris Rajput explained the structure of Sindh’s irrigation system and flood management.
The ICRC and the CEJ organized this workshop to better equip local media to give people the information they need to survive and can help disaster affected communities make their voices heard.
Better two-way communication with disaster-affected communities which critical for a more effective and accountable delivery of humanitarian assistance. ICRC and CEJ plan to organize more such workshops in the near future.
Web Desk. CEJ, ICRC hold inaugural workshop on Humanitarian Reporting. The News, August 22, 2017.