25.01.2018 - UNESCO Office in Doha

UNESCO attends launch of Al Jazeera's publication "Journalism in Times of War"

©AlJazeeraMediaInstitute

Within its mandate to promote media development and safety of journalists, UNESCO GCC and Yemen Office attended the book launch of Al Jazeera Media Institute's latest publication entitled "Journalism in Times of War" at the Al Jazeera Media Café in Katara, Doha on 24 January 2018.

The book sheds lights on the nature of reporting from war zones, according to journalists and correspondents who lived the experience, including in Yemen.

The book was edited by Awad Joumaa and Khaled Ramadan and presents interviews with correspondents from within Al Jazeera Media Network and other TV stations on the coverage from war zones in the Arab region. The reporters share their experiences and provide tips and advice regarding working in war zones and areas of conflicts.

The contributions range from award-winning professional war correspondents like Lebanese Zeina Khodr to Zaina Erhaim, a renowned Syrian media activist.

Khodr touches on many issues, including the issue of gender. She said it can be a benefit if the reporter uses it to her strength.

"You have to act differently, assertive, not aggressive. Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I'm weaker than anybody else. It's all about trust, really, and how you present yourself.

"An experienced female reporter will gain more respect on the ground than an inexperienced male journalist who is unable to show confidence and understanding."

Erhaim gives an account of how her people raised their mobile phones and live streamed to the world the unfolding events in Syria. This new form of participatory journalism has come at a cost, she says. But it has also opened up new perspectives.

Ameera Ahmad Harouda is Gaza's first female fixer. Her contribution barely made the deadline of the book - constant power cuts and family circumstances in the besieged Gaza Strip made it almost impossible.

The Yemen conflict is another major focus of the volume. Yemen, with its long history of internal and external struggles and conflict, has been a no-go zone for journalists since the Saudi-led military coalition launched its war on the Houthi rebels.

Dozens of journalists have been jailed since 2001, in direct reprisal for their work.

Since 2015, airstrikes and street-by-street fighting have further intensified.

Bashraheel Bashraheel, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of al-Ayyam, Yemen's largest national daily newspaper, shared his experience with us in the book.

Yemeni authorities have repeatedly closed al-Ayyam newspaper, alongwith others. Getting in touch with him was fraught with difficulties as he was constantly on the move.

It was only with the help of barely functioning connections on Viber and WhatsApp that we managed to get his story. 

"We pay a heavy price. You face huge emotional stress. It is not just about you, but also your family. My family was virtually under house arrest from 2008 to 2012.

"As a result, my children had to be home schooled because of the threat of kidnapping."

At the time of the interview, freelance fixer and photographer Muatasm Alhitari lived in Sanaa. He said every time he picks up his camera, it could be his last.

"Freelance journalists lack access to hostile environment training, for example. Usually, they don't have the means to buy protective gear such as bulletproof vests and ballistic helmets, because they cannot afford it," Alhitari said.

"They lack insurance. Typically, they cannot rely on any support network. This threatens the effective documentation of human rights abuses and war crimes in conflict areas."

From his exile in Turkey, Egyptian Khalid Faheem recounts how Egypt's revolution unfolded.

He and his compatriots started their journey by covering the controversial 2010 parliamentary elections. Soon after, they found themselves covering a full-fledged revolution and setting up their own grassroots organisation.

Al Jazeera's former correspondent Peter Greste highlights the importance of maintaining integrity as journalists.

Greste spent 400 days in some of Egypt's most notorious prisons. Greste, who has been freed, has worked with some of the world's most respected news organisations.

Click here to read and download "Journalism in Times of War".

[Source: Al Jazeera English]




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