Centre for Law, Justice & Journalism
  1. The Future of Humanitarian Reporting
Centre for Law, Justice & Journalism

The Future of Humanitarian Reporting

On Wednesday 6 March 2013, the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism hosted a conference on the Future of Humanitarian Reporting. Practitioners and academics from development and journalism backgrounds debated the latest developments in disaster reporting and the ethical questions raised by the new media landscape, the changing nature of the source-media relationship and NGOs' own use of new media tools. Participants examined whether a 'new ethical and reporting framework' is required to which all involved parties can sign up to.

Keynote speech

Panel one: user generated content (UGC) and humanitarian disasters: the latest development in mainstream media's use of new media

This panel examined some of the most interesting new developments in the use of social media and user-generated content to report humanitarian crises - from how the BBC verifies the information it gets, to how user-generated content shaped such disasters as the 2012 Emilia Romagna earthquake, and the 2012 Sierre bus crash.

Panel two: communicating change: how NGOs are using new media to deal with disasters

This panel looked at how non-governmental organisations, as well as the DfID are increasingly using social media and user-generated content to shape and form the news agenda - and the advantages or potential problems that must be considered. Specific case studies included the 2013 Kenyan elections, Save the Children UK's '#blogladesh' campaign and World Vision UK's #shareniger.

Panel three: the end of the affair? How do aid agencies and journalists relate to each other in a social media era

This panel debated the symbiotic but sometimes fraught relationship between NGOs and the media, discussing questions such as should NGOs pay for press trips; what does the relationship between NGOs and the media really consist of, and what are the mainstream media really looking for when it comes to information from such organisations.

Panel four: how we now report disasters: emotion and trauma

This panel reflected on the difficult issues thrown up by the very reporting of stories of humanitarian crises and disaster. It looked at how survivors of catastrophic events such as the 2011 Utøya shootings used social media to give themselves a voice, but also how journalists can both help the victims of disasters take control of a story, and how journalists themselves deal with covering such events.