Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Pacific Scoop

Distant, disconnected and in danger: Are educators doing enough to prepare students for frontline freelance risks?

PJR Rod Emmerson cartoon for Wake article

Volume 22, Issue 1

July, 2016

From page
52
to page
73
Wake, Alex (2016). Distant, disconnected and in danger: Are educators doing enough to prepare students for frontline freelance risks? Pacific Journalism Review, 22(1): 52-73.
Author(s): Alexandra Wake
Publication date: 
June, 2016

Abstract: For anyone who has worked in another country, the journalistic ‘rules of engagement’ differ in each port. Foreign correspondents argue passionately for the freedom of the press, saying that by ‘bearing witness’ to crimes against civilians they will be able to effect change. However, in taking risks to report on such events, most journalists recognise that—if their reports displease a particular country’s power elite—they can quickly find themselves deported, banned from future entry, languishing behind bars or, in a worst-case scenario, killed. Using Bourdieuan considerations, this article concentrates on the young, mostly freelance, journalists who have absorbed Western news values—including the myth of the heroic war reporter and truth-seeker—and suggests greater understanding of the cultural and political nuances of countries from which they intend to report. Using journalism as a methodology, this article looks at several cases in which reporters have found themselves in difficulties, and suggests that educators consider sharing three lessons: know your employer; acknowledge local differences between countries; and learn the skill of risk assessment. Risk-assessment skills include stressing the need for sufficient pre-deployment training in first aid, personal safety, security and other protocols and, most importantly, managing exposure to traumatic situations.

Cartoon: © Rod Emmerson