International reporting

5 ways journalists can use social media for on-the-ground reporting in the Middle East

Social media is a particularly powerful tool in the Middle East, where in some countries it gives people a way to express themselves. That expression takes many forms, from social protest, to political criticism, to sharing news and information.

Most recently, groups such as the Israeli Defense Force have been using social media to seek support and participation as the Gaza Strip conflict escalates.

Sometimes major news happens in people’s backyards and they send out extremely valuable tidbits of information in real-time. For journalists who can’t be everywhere or be there to see it firsthand, the hyper-active social media stratosphere in the Middle East is an invaluable tool. The explosion of regional use of platforms like Twitter and Facebook started with Arab Spring, and has only grown since then. Read more


Kristof: ‘The U.S. is losing interest’ in foreign reporting

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof answered readers’ questions on Reddit Monday. Here are some highlights:

• Kristof tries to produce as much copy as he can from his trips abroad: “[G]iven how long it takes to get to the places I go, I need to be sure that if I get there, I can do several different columns from that destination.” And he thinks the appetite for foreign reporting is waning:

The big challenge for foreign reporting is that I think the U.S. is losing interest. For a decade or so after 9/11, the U.S. was quite interested in the world, an aberration in our history of insularity. Now I think we’re reverting the more normal situation where we’re quite inward looking.

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What journalists need to know about Coptic Christians

This morning I got a call from the editors, who asked: “Could you write a piece explaining Coptic Christianity?” The request comes as law enforcement identifies Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, being widely described as a “California Coptic Christian,” as the person behind a film that may have touched off some of the violence in Egypt, Libya and through the Middle East. (Note how tentative I am about who is responsible for the film and about how directly linked the movie is to the violence. We just do not know yet.)

First: There is nothing new about religious insensitivity fueling the fires in the Middle East. But do not miss this point: There is nothing about Coptic Christianity that leads believers to produce a hateful movie disrespecting the Muslim religion. Read more


NPR’s new global health beat blends social media, traditional reporting

As news organizations experiment more with social networking sites, many are realizing that social media has to be an integral part of how we gather news, tell stories and develop beats.

NPR’s new global health and development beat is a good example of a hybrid approach to storytelling, one that places just as much emphasis on social media as it does on shoe-leather reporting.

NPR has hired an associate producer, Michaeleen Doucleff, who will work with reporter Jason Beaubien to build an audience for the beat through social media and multimedia. The beat, which is part of NPR’s Science Desk, is supported by a grant from the Gates Foundation.

A new & better way to tell global health stories

Joe Neel, deputy senior supervising editor and a correspondent on the Science Desk, said the global health and development beat is helping NPR’s science team reshape the way it approaches stories. Read more


On World Press Freedom Day, Equatorial Guinea lives up to its low ranking

Committee to Protect Journalists
The government of Equatorial Guinea responded to its distinction as the fifth most-censored country in the world by holding a news conference at which President Teodoro Obiang declared, “There are really no restrictions on any activity of the press, provided they are legal.” That message must not have made it to the head of the state-owned broadcaster, who on the same day “barred Samuel Obiang Mbana, an independent journalist … from participating in a televised debate to which he had been invited two days earlier to speak on how press freedom could transform the country.” Mbana tells CPJ’s Peter Nkanga, “I was told I am problematic, that I might say something the station is censored not to say, and which the government doesn’t want aired.” || Related: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton honors journalists on World Press Freedom Day (U.S. Read more


How journalists train to stay safe while covering hostile environments

Before he ever stepped foot in Iraq, Washington Post reporter Ed O’Keefe had already navigated his way through landmines, used a tourniquet to help an injured person, and been ambushed.

He did all this and more in a hostile environment training course that he took prior to a six-and-a-half week reporting stint in Iraq. The training, he said, helped prepare him for what to expect and made him more aware of the precautions he needed to take to stay safe.

“Was I using what I learned on a daily basis? No. But was I conscious of things I wouldn’t have otherwise known? Absolutely,” said O’Keefe, a congressional reporter who volunteered to go to Iraq. “There were nights when I walked through the Green Zone and was conscious of the fact that behind that corner, someone could be waiting, conscious that an explosive could go off at any point, conscious of not walking in the shadows, but in the light.”

The Washington Post — which strongly urged but didn’t require O’Keefe to take the course — is one of several news organizations that pays for its reporters to go through hostile environment training before entering a war zone. Read more

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Corporation for Public Broadcasting gives NPR $500,000 for foreign news coverage

The money, announced last night as NPR journalist Lourdes Garcia-Navarro was honored with an Edward R. Murrow award, “will help support journalists and producers stationed across five key NPR foreign bureaus – Jerusalem, Cairo, Beirut, Shanghai and Beijing,” says a CPB press release. “The funding will enable these journalists to continue reporting feature stories for broadcast, web and mobile platforms.” (The full release is after the jump.) || Related: NPR’s Andy Carvin won in the “#Journalist” category of Monday night’s Shorty Awards Read more


CNN reporter on covering modern-day slavery in Mauritania: ‘We had to do much of this reporting in secret’

CNN’s John Sutter and Edythe McNamee spent nearly a year trying to gain entry into Mauritania, where 10 to 20 percent of the population is still enslaved. Their project, “Slavery’s Last Stronghold,” shows the effects slavery has had on this West African nation, and is part of CNN’s ongoing effort to strengthen its international reporting.

I talked with Sutter via email about what he learned from the reporting experience.

Mallary Tenore: What was the hardest part about reporting on this story?

John Sutter: We had to do much of this reporting in secret — often in the middle of the night, watching our backs to make sure we weren’t being followed. It was tense at times.

And I think the really frustrating thing was trying to tease out the line between getting enough information so that we could report this story and do it fairly and also making sure that we didn’t get in trouble with authorities, who could have taken all of our equipment and notebooks. Read more


How CNN’s reporting on modern-day slavery fits into its efforts to strengthen international coverage

Before he set out to cover modern-day slavery in Mauritania, CNN’s John Sutter thought he’d be able to distance himself emotionally from the story. But after hearing accounts from former slaves and slave owners, he couldn’t help but be moved.

“Usually it’s pretty easy to put on your reporter hat, at least while you’re having a conversation, and to distance yourself from the content of the interview,” Sutter said via email. “That wasn’t possible with several of these interviews, both because I was surprised by what people said — a liberated slave didn’t remember the moment he started getting paid — and because some of the tales of slavery were so horrific and graphic.”

Sutter and photographer Edythe McNamee spent nearly a year gaining entry into Mauritania, a West African country where 10 to 20 percent of the population is still enslaved. Read more


Watch a CNN crew hike out of Syria

Ivan Watson narrates as he and a crew of CNN journalists clamber across rocks as they leave Syria. “I’ve had some tough assignments,” says CNN photographer Joe Duran. “I’d say this is the most difficult one for many reasons. … It’s been not just scary, but emotional. Some of the people we left behind, I just hate to think what might happen to them.” Also on CNN: A gripping, long report by a French photographer the network is calling Mani, showing Homs at war. One little girl holds up a photo of her Uncle Salah. “He was filming the demonstrations,” she replies, when asked how he died. || Related: Poland’s diplomats try to get two wounded journalists out of Homs, along with bodies of Remi Ochlik and Marie Colvin (Associated Press) | Activists, including citizen journalists, in Homs “are prepared to die in the battle for a free and democratic Syria.” (Channel 4 News)

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