More and more, journalists reporting on “revolutionary” events in war-torn parts of the globe are finding themselves in harm’s way. Senior Erica Grant shares her perspective and an excerpt from her Capstone project.
Are we putting journalists in harm’s way?
Journalists bear witness to war zones and troubled spots of conflict in an effort to document what is taking place and to report it to the public. War zones are torn apart by death and destruction. Consequently, journalists are confronted with danger and violence. Some may even pay the ultimate price for their dedication to the craft—death. There is no doubt that they are in harm’s way. However, their work is of utmost necessity as it serves as evidence of inhumane acts. It is vital that victims who are suffering from oppressors’ crimes get their stories told and voices heard in order for change.
How does social media affect news sharing?
Social media has a huge impact on news sharing as it enables ordinary citizens and amateurs to participate in the production of news. Traditionally, professionals have controlled and contributed to this process. However, with the rise of new media and digital technology, control seems to be shifting from established institutions to citizen involvement.
For the past semester, I have been studying Aleppo Media Center (AMC), a citizen journalism group based in Aleppo, Syria. Not only does AMC produce articles and photographs of Syria by Syrians, but they also risk their lives doing so. Their work is posted on Facebook, Twitter, and their website. They provide the world with content of the immense violence and human tragedy that is taking place in their country. Since President Bashar al-Assad has restricted open media coverage, foreign news organizations cannot produce this information themselves. As a result, AMC’s work is valued for their immediacy and proximity. In the particular case of Syria, this amateur-produced content posted on social media platforms supplements professional work. It has remarkable potential to spread awareness about current events in Syria.
Is it worth it to continue to send journalists into war zones?
Sending journalists into war zones is costly—in lives and money. There are many dangers involved in sending journalists into war zones as many do not make it out alive. However, we must ask ourselves what is at stake if we do not send them. Professionally trained journalists value the objective truth, accuracy, and quality of information. Oftentimes, citizen journalism from war zones consists of activist-produced information that seeks international intervention. There is a clear agenda and bias within their work, as is the case with AMC. Nevertheless, citizen journalists are witnessing what is taking place in a country where professional foreign journalists are guaranteed death. For this reason, I believe that as consumers, we must be critical of the news we read and visual imagery we perceive from the amateurs. This is not to say that their efforts should not be appreciated or respected because any journalist in a war zone, be it a professional or amateur, is risking their life. Their bravery is truly an act of heroism.
Story by Erica Grant, Class of 2015