Journalism and Human Rights
About this webinar
The third webinar of the series ‘The Road Less Traveled’ focused on graduates working as journalists. Journalists are often at the forefront of the defence and promotion of human rights, breaking stories of human rights violations as they happen or investigating and exposing violations of human rights. We discussed with our three guest speakers how they use human rights knowledge and expertise in their work as journalists. Which difference do they feel the make for the realisation of human rights? Are human rights underpinning their work no matter what the story is about?
Try to use as many possibilities as possible to work and practice
Independent journalist and producer currently based in Lviv, Ukraine. After her graduation from EMA in 2018, she started working for the NGO Internews Ukraine which specializes in media and communications. For 3 years, she worked as a project coordinator, producer, analyst and journalist of UkraineWorld media project, predominantly focused on human rights issues and Russian aggression against Ukraine. Right before the full-scale invasion, she quit her job and started working as a local producer with NPR. Since then, she has been working on stories in different parts of Ukraine.
Alumna of GC Europe
Follow her on Twitter @IMatviyishyn
We need people who research stories and put human rights issues on the agenda.
Journalist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has a degree in Journalism (TEA) and another in Political Science (UBA). In 2012, she graduated from the Master in Human Rights and Democratisation for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNSaM). She currently works for the daily Página/12,one of the main media outlets in Argentina, and TV Pública, the state-owned TV channel. She is also a lecturer at the National University of Lanús (UNLa).
Alumna of GC Latin America and the Caribbean
Follow her on Twitter @LucianaBertoia
I was never asked about my studies, but always about the ideas I have.
Award-winning journalist, self-shooting documentary filmmaker and human rights practitioner from Moldova.
She studied documentary filmmaking at University College London on a Chevening Scholarship. Through the One World Media Global Short Docs Forum 2020, her graduation project, Last Chance for Justice, was commissioned by the BBC World News. The film won the One World Media Awards in the Student and Short film categories as well as the Special Mention at the International Human Rights Film Festival One World. Previously, Marina was awarded the Senior Minority Fellowship with the UN Human Rights Office and the Sakharov Fellowship with the EU Parliament. Coming from an ethnic minority background and born in the small town of Bessarabca, Marina is passionate about stories that diminish divisions between “us” and “them” and create solidarity among people.
Alumna of GC Caucasus
Follow her on Twitter @MarinaShupac
Carry the Truth Forward - Journalism and Human Rights
A journalism degree, studies in human rights or just experience in reporting – what do you need if you want to become a journalist covering human rights? The three journalists in the third webinar of the series “The Road Less Traveled” discussed becoming journalists covering human rights issues and gave insights into what motivates them to work in this demanding field.
Speaking up for justice
Iryna Matviyishyn always liked to tell stories. Now, as an independent journalist and producer based in Lviv, Ukraine, she has a broad audience for her stories. “My human rights studies gave me a lot of background knowledge and hints in which context stories that I wanted to cover could fit”, said Iryna. What continues motivating Iryna to stay in the challenging field of journalism is the ability to make voices heard that barely have any platform or are silenced. Journalism was also the right choice for her since she felt that working for an international organization, for instance, would be more limiting because their work is often limited by a mandate. Iryna explained that journalism allows more freedom in her work: “I don’t like when someone tries to censure me. I need to say something when I see injustice”.
Her pieces of advice for entering journalism:
Learn the basics of journalism and how media works. It demands a lot of persistence and dedication; you have to show that you really want to cover stories.
If you are not sure what to cover, remember there are stories everywhere and people want to tell their stories. You don’t have to go far, listen to the people in your own community. Sometimes “ordinary” stories are the extraordinary ones. It’s just about starting.
Try to find a focus that you are passionate about. Sometimes we say that the best journalists are those who didn’t study journalism, but who have knowledge of a certain issue like the economy or law. If you are good in what you are interested in, it will become your area of coverage.
Try to use as many possibilities as possible to work and practice. If you don’t have the possibility yet to publish in a media outlet, try to publish it on your own. There are so many ways nowadays in our digital era.
Do some self-promotion. It sounds egocentric, but it is important
Making a real impact
Luciana Bertoia currently works for the daily Página/12, the third largest newspaper in Argentina, and for the state-owned channel TV Pública, where she comments on human rights related topics. Since primary school she wanted to become a journalist: to write and to reveal the truth. In her journalistic work she focuses on the events during the 1976-1983 dictatorship in Argentina, when thousands of people were forcibly disappeared. When asked if it is possible to do journalism about events that happened 45 years ago, her clear answer is: Yes, it is! “There is still a long way to go. We still don’t know all the perpetrators, neither all the places where the people were held nor where all the abducted babies were taken”, said Luciana. The best reward for her is to see justice finally taking place and the impact journalism has on people’s lives.
Her piece of advice for taking up journalism as a profession:
Go into journalism! We need people who research stories and put human rights issues on the agenda. As a journalist you have the possibility to make those issues known.
Fulfilling, but demanding
Coming from a small town in Moldova, Marina Shupac was early inspired to make stories of ordinary people. After graduating with a human rights degree, she started working for a big online outlet in Moldova. “Soon I noticed that knowing about the human rights instruments and obligations made me stand out from other journalists.” She could make references to the human rights obligations of the government and ask government officials in interviews why they didn’t implement them. To see the power of journalism reaching people and making them act and stand up for someone’s rights, drives the award-winning journalist and self-shooting documentary filmmaker forward. Nevertheless, Marina knows also about the downsides: “It is a very fulfilling profession, but also very demanding.” Journalism is often seen not only as a profession, but as a lifestyle. Thus, she stresses the importance of creating moments to disconnect; going to nature is one way for her to reach that goal.
Her pieces of advice for entering journalism:
What matters in journalism are ideas and stories and the access you have to those stories. I was never asked about my studies, but always about the ideas I have.
Journalism is a profession for very pro-active people. Keep track of topics you want to cover and always be ready to pitch.
Knowing how to pitch your ideas is one of the most important skills.
Follow One World Media if you are interested in multimedia journalism. They support (young) media professionals covering human rights
You don’t have to know all the technical skills at the beginning. You can still learn how a camera works or how to edit films in a short time. I am not the most talented videographer, my shots are shaky, but what mattered the most were again the ideas and the access to the stories.
All in all: Don’t care too much about diplomas, practice writing or producing media products and pitching!
Summary: Milena Österreicher | LinkedIn