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Saturday, 23 April 2016

Good #storytelling isn't limited to simplified representations of reality - & more ideas from a #Polis2016 session on #Reporting #Refugees

Last Thursday I attended the #Polis2016 conference at LSE, London UK.   This post is about some of the ideas that came out from a session on Reporting Refugees.

1) Victims or heroes - There was quite a lot of discussion about how sometimes the stories journalists present about refugees frame them as being helpless and needy victims.  But a cursory reflection on the determination needed for a refugee to start and continue on their journey indicates the exact opposite.

"We need to write about the heroes" . on the refugee crisis

: says we need to move beyond the paradigm of 'victims' & portray refugees as survivors.'

2) Shying away from topics society is uncomfortable with Several of the panellists pointed out the following

After 's intro the panel discuss how mental health issues are unrepresented in refugee reports

So I guess a lesson from these points is:

3) Do the public only want the simplified 3 minute summary? Some of the panels discussion was about how the roots of the refugee situation went back a fair way in time and were complicated. Similarly trying to simplify descriptions of what is happening now to fit "3 minute" slots for TV could present a cartoon like depiction of reality.

"We [the media] tend to compartmentalise issues such as ISIS, & the ." - at

La Stampa’s says need to focus on high explanations (data, context, examination) not just high resolutions (photos)

Of course sometimes online can lend itself to more long form reporting. But even with short form .....

.: 'Good storytelling is good storytelling. It doesn't matter what language is spoken or God is prayed to.'

. calls out journalists' hubris "I'm going to make the world a better place" just keep your head down, do good work

And some felt the public actually has an appetite for nuance

There is a hunger for good neutral nuanced reporting

So a lesson from these points might be:

4) Some other ideas and background to reporting on refugees

’s terrific piece using WhatsApp to explain the refugee crisis

Photo published for A Syrian Refugee Shared His Struggle To Reach Europe In Real-Time On WhatsApp

A Syrian Refugee Shared His Struggle To Reach Europe In Real-Time On WhatsApp

Interesting debates this morning at about reporting the refugee crisis. See our special report on this: 

Photo published for Spring 2015: Across the wires – how refugee stories get told - Index on Censorship

PS In an earlier post I summarised the key ideas and quotes from Jon Snow's opening address on whether journalists can win back the public's trust.  Since then Charlie Becket has tweeted a graphic of what Jon talked about.  Its a great summary  - you may want to read my earlier post to understand some of the headlines in it.

'Alienation & Crisis': 's speech to made into a fab graphic by

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