|A girl holds new school supplies in a UNICEF tent school on the first day of classes in Jacquot Merlin, Haiti. In-depth media coverage of issues such as education in times of crisis can ensure that the rights of children are protected.|
By Pi James
NEW YORK, USA, 3 May 2010 – Every day, despite significant risks to their safety, journalists bring stories from disasters and conflict zones to people around the world. These stories can shape the international response to humanitarian emergencies and, ultimately, have an impact on the lives of children.
To commemorate World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, UNICEF Radio podcast moderator Amy Costello spoke with three practitioners from three different continents about the media’s role in reporting on education and children in times of crisis.
‘Huge’ role of media
During the podcast discussion, all the guests agreed that the media’s role is vital in bringing attention to deeper issues in conflict situations – including the right education.
“I definitely think the role of the media is huge,” said Colombian journalist Jenny Manrique. “We have to see through the media what the conflict is about, and how are people solving this conflict. This also helps to understand the problem.”
Brendan O’Malley, journalist and author of UNESCO’s 2010 report ‘Education Under Attack,’ added that the media have been “hugely helpful” in exposing attacks on educational institutions, teachers and students around the world.
“Journalism often is the front line,” said Mr. O’Malley. “It brings these issues to the world’s attention and it does so through telling the human stories – and many journalists put themselves at great risk to go and get those stories.... They should be commended for that.”
Jake Lynch, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, argued that journalists often gloss over complex issues such as the role of education in conflict. He described the phenomenon of rebel villages on the conflict-ridden island of Mindanao in the Philippines.
“The most common denominator of rebel villages is that they have no school of their own,” said Prof. Lynch. “Access to education therefore could be seen as a predictor of unrest and cycles of relative deprivation, which lead to violence.”
Mr. O’Malley noted that, too often, journalists do not dig deeper. “In countries where schools are being attacked, the reporting seems to focus on the fact the school has been attacked, the fact that teachers have been killed, and what is often overlooked is why those schools are being attacked. That is a shortcoming that I would like to see journalism across the board address,” he said.
“It’s a matter of rethinking the exercise of journalism,” Ms. Manrique said, adding that journalists should be seen “not just as mere observers, but also as human beings.”
Podcast #25: World Press Freedom Day. Moderator Amy Costello speaks with journalists Jenny Manrique and Brendan O’Malley and University of Sydney Professor Jake Lynch about the media’s role in reporting on education and children in times of crisis.
'Back on Track' website
'Beyond School Books'
The following stories are part of the 'Beyond School Books' series focusing on education during emergencies.
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Segment #74: Young people provide strategic advice on education issues
Segment #73: Girls advocate for girls' education and gender equality