Media: reporting human rights issues (2002)
How do journalists select and cover human rights stories? How can one avoid bias or distortion of human rights information? Addressing these questions, this report examines the news and reporting process and its relations with human rights organisations. It assesses the difficulties of communicating complex human rights issues accurately and suggests ways in which coverage of human rights could be improved.
Biographical affiliation was accurate when research took place.
Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Research Director, ICHRP, 1998-2004. For more information on this project, please contact Fairouz El Tom, Research Outreach and Publications Coordinator, ICHRP.
Roger Kaplan. Research and original writing of this report were undertaken by between July 2000 and June 2001. At the time of the project Roger Kaplan was a freelance journalist at the Voice of America, Washington, D.C. He has been an editorial writer for The New York Post and The Detroit News, and the Editorial Director at Freedom House, managing its publications, including Freedom Review, Freedom in the World, and the World Survey of Economic Freedom. Mr Kaplan has also served as Associate Editor for the Reader’s Digest in New York and Paris, and as Programme Officer at the Smith Richardson Foundation. He has written feature articles and reports for The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, Harvard Business Review, This World, and The National Review. He has also taught at the International Programme of the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
Additional writing was conducted by Richard Carver, who was at the time of the project a consultant based in Oxford.
Margaret Cook, Director, Public Affairs, Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC); Senior Political Consultant, National Nine Television Network, Australia.
Roy Gutman, Director, Crimes of War Project, American University, Washington D.C.; 1993 Pulitzer Prize winner for International Reporting.
Kwame Karikari, Director, School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana; Founder and Executive Director, Media Foundation for West Africa, Accra.
Jean-Paul Marthoz, European Communications Director, Human Rights Watch.
Aidan White, General Secretary, International Federation of Journalists.
Nabil Khatib, Bureau Chief of the Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC), Jerusalem office; Director of the Media Institute, Birzeit University, West Bank.
Mirko Macari, journalist, El Sábado, Santiago.
Yamila Milovic, Production Manager, Radio Mir, Sarajevo.
Adrien Sindayigaya, Producer, Studio Ijambo, Bujumbura.
Waif working papers
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——— Who Rules the Airwaves — Broadcasting in Africa. London: Article 19 and Index on Censorship, 1995.
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——— “The Biased Reporting that Makes Killing Acceptable”, The Independent, November 14, 2000.
——— “When Journalists Forget that Murder is Murder”, The Independent, August 18, 2001.
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Goldberg, Bernard. Bias — A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News. Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2001.
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——— “Democracy and the Media”, International Social Science Journal 129, August 1991, pp. 523-540.
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“Finally, a thorough examination of how human rights issues and stories relate to media coverage.
This should prompt all the players involved to rethink their goals and values,
to work more comprehensively towards a positive result.” Riz Khan, journalist, former host of CNN’s “Q&A with Riz Khan”
“Excellent … demonstrates with piercing analysis the need for the human rights movement to better inform and deploy the media in the human rights campaign. The report will for long remain the baseline on which the media and human rights movement judge their collaboration.” Makau Mutua, Director of the Human Rights Center, State University of New York