Reporting Justice

III/1: Covering Conflict

III/1: Covering Conflict

Journalism Module 1:  Covering Conflict

This module explores media influence on conflict, the dangers of bias, importance of impartiality, the challenge of reporting on entrenched factions, and the points at which reporting crosses ethical and legal lines.

Key questions:

What are the fundamental international professional ethical standards for journalism?

How can reporters covering conflicts uncover the truth and avoid being used by opposing factions?

What are the elements of incitement under international criminal law?

Required Reading (and Watching):

C. Bickler et al. Reporting for Change: A Handbook for Local Journalists in Crisis Areas, Institute for War and Peace Reporting. (London. 2004) p. 82 A one-page summary of reporters’ protections under the Geneva Conventions

Robin Lustig, “Covering Conflict,” photo essay, BBC, Magnum in Motion.    A dramatic, visual introduction to the many facets of conflict reporting.

Susan Benesch, “Inciting Genocide, Pleading Free Speech (Media in Rwanda),” World Policy Journal (Summer 2004). A brief history of the media’s role genocide in Rwanda and other conflicts, with an overview of the crime of incitement as it pertains to the media.

Judgment and Sentence, The Prosecutor v. Ngeze, Case No ICTR-00-52-T, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The ICTR judgment against a media defendant.

“Down the Rabbit Hole”, video of a Frontline event on the ethics of venturing into war zones, the lines between fact and fiction and telling the stories of war, available at (video)

Selected Online Resources:

C. Bickler et al, Reporting for Change: A Handbook for Local Journalists in Crisis Areas, Institute for War and Peace Reporting. (2004), especially Ch. 2, “International Standards,” Ch. 11, “Peace Reporting,” and Ch. 12, “Human Rights and Journalism.” The basics of effective, ethical reporting in crisis situations, including international journalism standards, sourcing, interviewing techniques, story selection and presentation.

Ross Howard, Conflict Sensitive Journalism: State of the Art, International Media Support and Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society, (April 2004)., pp 21-28. A teacher’s manual with class readings, case studies and exercises to understand the roots and nature of violence

Janine di Giovanni, Ghosts by Daylight: A Memoir of War and Love (please also see her website for further literature and discussion)

Frances Harrison, Still Counting the Dead: Survivors of Sri Lanka’s Hidden War