It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword and, as any good journalist will tell you, during times of crisis, information becomes a prized possession. However, information can also be misused for power and control. Correct and timely information saves lives, and journalists play an important role in this information flow especially in emergencies. In order to help journalists hit the ground running in humanitarian response reportage a new guide based on research with journalists in the Philippines is now available.
Journalists can help a great deal by reporting what affected communities need to know, details of how they are coping, what their needs are and by giving communities a voice. Putting communities at the forefront of stories can help those affected receive aid, empowering them with information about where and how to get help. With this in mind, in 2017 as part of CDAC Network’s project under the UK aid-funded Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP), The Peace and Conflict Journalism Network Philippines (PECOJON), worked with local and national level journalists to develop the Covering Conflict in Disaster-Affected Communities: A Humanitarian Reporting Field Guide.
PECOJON developed the guide after a field test and review with journalists who covered the Marawi crisis which erupted during the implementation of the project. Subsequent consultations with humanitarians and journalists, were also used to verify components of the guide.
As part of the review, journalists mentioned that they previously had little exposure to training on conflict-sensitive journalism or humanitarian reporting. They recalled experiences of being trapped in the fighting in Marawi and having the impact their work has had on affected communities. It is hoped that the increased awareness generated through the guide will help journalists build a more humane and just portrayal of affected communities in the media.
This field guide aims to provide guidance to both novice and veteran journalists, especially those working within local community media, so they can provide affected communities with the right information at the right time based on the communities information needs. It is designed to help in the conceptualising, production, and crafting of stories, and includes explanations of the UN cluster system, the importance of community feedback and addressing rumours within communities, for journalists unfamiliar with the humanitarian landscape.
The field guide is a companion to PECOJON's forthcoming Covering Conflict in Disaster-Affected Communities: A Manual for Journalists, and is formatted in such a way that it should fit the back pocket of your jeans, or the inside pocket of your jacket. The guide also includes practical templates, such as a release form to secure releases for photos/videos.
A supplementary A5 notepad is also available for download. The notepad contains a summary of key tips for conflict-sensitive journalism followed by a 70 page pad - ideal reference material for field based reporters.
This material has been developed for the Philippines Community of Practice on Community Engagement by PECOJON, with funding from UK aid on behalf of the CDAC Network, as part of the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme.