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Children, Violence and the Media in an Expanding Europe

Organization

The PressWise Trust

Contact details

Mike Jempson, Director
The PressWise Trust
38 Easton Business Centre
Felix Road
Bristol BS5 0HE, UK
Tel: +44 117 941 5889
Fax: +44 117 941 5848
Email: pw@presswise.org.uk
Website: www.presswise.org.uk

Project partners

Centre for Independent Journalism (Prague)
Centre for Studies in Crime and Social Justice, Edge Hill College (UK)
Child Psychotherapy Trust (UK)
Children's Ombudsman (Madrid)
Innocence in Danger (Paris)
International Federation of Journalists
National Union of Journalists (UK and Ireland)
Save the Children Spain

Location

During 1999-2000: research and training in the Czech Republic, France, Spain and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Background

PressWise was encouraged to apply for European Commission funding to develop a pilot project in partnership with other organizations to devise training materials for journalists dealing with issues related to children and violence.

Aims and objectives

To produce model training modules to raise awareness among media professionals about the impact on children of real violence and violent imagery.

Participants

Working journalists, media analysts, child psychotherapists and child rights activists

Target audience

Media professionals and journalism trainers.

Wider beneficiaries

The public, especially children, young people and their carers, and policy makers.

Involvement of children

Some teenagers took part in workshops in the Czech Republic and Spain.

Summary of project

The research phase included collecting and compiling bibliographies of literature about the impact of trauma on children, the reporting of violence against children, conflicting research findings about the impact of televised violence on children and a two-day seminar to discuss these topics plus the impact on journalists of reporting violence.

This phase was followed by the production and testing of modules, with seminars in Prague, Paris, Plymouth and Madrid, and a two-day review in Bristol. The modules were then revised and the project written up. The modules include sessions on children's rights, interviewing children and uses of imagery, focusing on ethical issues.

Funders

European Commission Daphne Initiative
International Federation of Journalists
The PressWise Trust

Strengths of project

The project sought to combine the different attitudes and experiences of different disciplines - media, psychotherapy and children's rights. It was firmly based on practice rather than theory and the modules are based on real stories and experiences. They acknowledge the constraints under which journalists have to work and suggest ideas rather than prescribing ways of working.

Challenges

This was an immense task because the topic kept opening out into new areas of concern and investigation.

Creating effective partnerships is difficult when media professionals are, rightly, suspicious of any attempt to coerce them into particular ways of working. The different approaches to journalism we encountered at first suggested that we would need to tailor the modules to different cultures but in the end we decided that, since children everywhere share the same rights, we should produce generic modules that could be used in any context but adapted to different cultures and circumstances by inserting local examples.

Evaluation
The year-long project was carefully monitored at all stages and a substantial report was prepared. An expert appointed by the European Commission then conducted an external evaluation. The results are available on the Daphne Programme website.

Lessons learned

Don't bite off more than you can chew!
Even the simple things take time.
It is essential to document your work accurately so you can learn from experience. Finding ways of communicating with senior media executives about children's rights is as important as training working journalists.

Good ideas

The project began by compiling guidance for people who were producing training modules about ethical approaches.

It is particularly important to acknowledge gender and discrimination issues, particularly in the use of language and examples.

Sustainability

All training materials were produced in four languages and immediately made available free on the Internet.

Examples

Training modules are available in Czech, English, French and Spanish at PressWise Trust.

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