Presentation on theme: "REPORTING PHASE June and July 2011 Gordana Igric, director, BIRN Handouts for this session are: 1. BFJE Practical Guide 2. BIRN Editorial Guidelines 3."— Presentation transcript:
REPORTING PHASE June and July 2011 Gordana Igric, director, BIRN Handouts for this session are: 1. BFJE Practical Guide 2. BIRN Editorial Guidelines 3. BIRN Ethics and Code of Conduct
SETTING UP INTERVIEWS Interviews in person are always preferable. If that's not possible, then speaking by phone is also fine but Never unless there is no other option interview by email. If you do, make very clear in the copy that any quotes you use were obtained by email. If you're recording also take notes at the same time. It forces you to listen and acts as a backup if the recorder fails. It can also save time later, meaning you may not need to transcribe the entire interview. If you dont understand, ask again. If there is missing info or quotes, you will be required to go back and get it. BEST TO GET IT FIRST TIME. Save all notes and tape recordings until well after the story is published. If anyone challenges your work, your notebooks will back you up. NOTE: only shorthand notes OR some tape recordings will serve as evidence in court in the UK See handout: BFJE Practical Guide
INTERVIEW PREPARATION Thoroughly research your subject, but dont make assumptions Questions in advance? Decide on a case by case basis, but avoid wherever possible, especially when interviewing politicians and public figures. If necessary, you might agree to outline question areas – topics – rather than give exact questions. Technical questions that require some research are an example of when this approach could be useful. However, giving too much away might kill spontaneity. It could also inhibit you if you feel you must stick to an agreed list of questions. NEVER, EVER agree to give copy approval to interviewees
DONT FORGET TO LISTEN While interviewing, remember to listen. Thinking about what you will ask next while the subject is still answering the previous question is a common mistake and means you could miss important information. Avoid leading questions which subtly prompt the interviewee to respond in a particular way. For example, ask "what did you see?" not, "you saw the soldier shoot the man, didn't you?" Use open ended rather than closed questions such as: Who will you vote for this election? Instead, ask: What do you think about the two candidates in this election? If you don't understand the answer, ask again. If you don't get it, how will the editor or the reader? British journalist Jeremy Paxman once asked a UK politician who was dodging the question the same question more than a dozen times on live TV. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STUPID QUESTION
INTERVIEW TECHNIQUES Listen to what is being said, and how. Observe your subjects behaviour, the surroundings/environment, how are people dressed, how do they behave and interact? Is it a run down part of town, or well–heeled district? Long and rambling questions will often elicit long and rambling answers, or allow the interviewee to duck the question entirely, so be short and precise. At the end of the interview a good question to ask can be, "Who else should I speak to about this topic?" and "What havent I asked you that I should have asked?" Remember, an informal chat at the end, tape recorder turned off and pencil put down, often produces useful information, pointers and tips. Quickly check your notes before walking away or hanging up. Whats more embarrassing – asking the same questions twice or returning empty handed?
INTERVIEWING THE EXPERTS Start with the experts. Expert sources will include journalists, activists, independent researchers, scientists, government investigators, academics and authors. Check out their credentials. Remember experts may have an agenda so check and double check everything you are told. Examine their links with political parties, governments, business interests and check their previous statements/ reports to judge how reliable their analysis is. Former officials who have left a company can be a great source of information. They have the inside track and no longer fear losing their job if they speak out. They may also be able to connect you with current insiders. But again, question their motives. Why did they leave? Remember to ask anyone you speak about who else may know about the subject. Get their phone number and email, then use the name of the original source (if they are happy with this) when making contact. Schedule interviews with potentially hostile or evasive subjects for near the end of your research, as you will be better prepared to question and challenge their remarks. This is particularly true when interviewing governmental representatives. Always do them last, as they will be among the trickiest to interview.
ANONYMOUS SOURCES Use anonymous sources sparingly. There may be times when it is the only way to get someone to speak but be aware that too many unnamed sources will weaken your story. Everyone knows that and But thats what I think are not sources! If you do use an anonymous source, be as specific as possible in identifying the job they do. Avoid quoting just 'diplomats': it should be a senior UN official, an EU diplomat, an international expert for justice in Kosovo and it should be clearly stated where they are based. Even if an anonymous source is agreed, the information given must be independently verified. Abide the two source rule. REMEMBER – YOU ARE AN OBSERVER NOT AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT. YOUR OWN OPINIONS HAVE NO PLACE IN THESE ARTICLES AT ALL
GETTING THE HUMAN FACE HISTORY BELONGS TO THE LITTLE PEOPLE OR GIVING A VOICE TO THE VOICELESS (POWERLESS) Don't focus entirely on experts. Each story needs a human face, someone personally affected by the problem, a victim. Preferably several. NGOs or local media outlets might be able to help you find someone, but in the case of NGOs also be careful of their motives and agenda.
INTERVIEWING CHILDREN Proceed with special caution when dealing with children. Your overriding concern must be to protect the child from harm. Decide first if the interview is strictly necessary for you to tell your story. If possible obtain permission from a parent, guardian, school or local authority before beginning an interview. Be particularly careful when speaking to minors involved in court cases. There are usually strict prohibitions on identifying them and you could find yourself in contempt of court. A child is usually considered a minor until the age of 18. Adjust your style. Direct questions often don't work and a more effective approach is to allow them to speak in a less structured way, ideally in a child–friendly environment. Remember, children often tell adults what they think they want to hear, so be patient. Children who have suffered trauma will need extra time to tell their story. Get down to their eye level. Proceed slowly and carefully. Be alert for signs of anxiety.
QUOTING / IDENTIFYING CHILDREN You may not identify minors who are involved in ANY form of legal proceedings in the UK – check local law in your country Parental consent does NOT override the law on identifying minors who are involved in ANY form of legal proceedings Consider carefully if you should identify children, or identify parents and therefore identify children, in non–legally contentious contexts For example: identify children by quoting, and naming, the parents who are talking about sensitive issues, eg racism, that could have repercussions for the familys safety
QUOTES AND ACCURACY NEVER MAKE UP A QUOTE. It is a lie. It ends careers and taints the profession. You can always find a good source. Truth is always better than anything you could make up. You will always be found out. Never pay for information or interviews See handout: BIRN Ethics and Code of Conduct
STAYING SAFE UNDERCOVER If it is agreed with the BIRN team that you will go undercover, you must: Leave a list of contacts with your editor, BIRN office and colleagues detailing who you would like to be contacted in the event of an emergency. If you plan to be gone for more than a day, work out a plan to call a designated person (editor, spouse, partner, parent) every 24 hours. Your failure to call by an appointed time should trigger phone calls to emergency contacts. Ideally set up interviews via people you know and trust, however social networking sites and online forums can be useful in developing new contacts. Always meet contacts obtained this way in a public place, informing your editor of who you will be meeting and when you will be back.
STAYING SAFE GENERALLY Always carry press identification. In some countries, a signed and stamped letter from your editor outlining your mission could be useful and can be provided by BIRN. Ask Dragana. Carry a mobile phone with emergency numbers pre–set for speed dialling. KNOW the emergency numbers in the countries you are travelling in. If travelling in the countryside, or far from medical help, carry a first aid kit know how to use it and a torch. Always check your spare tire before setting out. Sensitive files, documents, discs, video and audio recordings should be stored in a secure place. Limit phone interviews to non–sensitive information. Journalists should always be cautious when using mobile telephones as they are not secure. Remember that using email to communicate may not be secure either.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ARRESTED Know your rights: you have the right to remain silent and to be assisted by a competent and independent lawyer of your choice. You have the right not to be subjected to torture, intimidation, deceit, or other forms of coercive harassment. You have the right to be informed of your rights and to be told that anything you say may be used against you in court. KNOW WHO YOU WILLL CONTACT FOR HELP SHOULD YOU NEED IT. MAKE SURE BIRN IS INFORMED
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS Respect local sensibilities. Dress in a manner which is appropriate to the local culture. It is YOUR responsibility to educate yourself about the political, physical and social terrain. Telephone taps, breaking and entering and hacking should NOT be used. Note that in some countries, covert use of a tape recorder is illegal. KNOW BEFORE YOU GO If you do not know the local language well, travel with a qualified interpreter. Learn and be able to pronounce the words for press or journalist in local languages. FIND MORE ON SAFETY FOR JOURNALISTS via the International News Safety Institute, Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists
DO YOUR FILING Clearly organise your files on your computer, by topic, interview name, dates etc Organise your notebooks Transcribe recorded interviews as soon as possible Sensitive files, documents, discs, videos, pictures, audio recordings should be stored in a secure place
ORGANISE YOUR NOTES AND DOCUMENTS HIGHLIGHT the most relevant sections in your notes and in documents Work out where the information should be used in the story – beginning (lead), middle (body), or end (conclusion)? Is this information better explained as a factfile, at-a-glance guide, profile or timeline?
ANALYSING INFORMATION As part of managing your project, allocate time to consider the material youve collected Are there any holes in your story? Any elements that do not withstand scrutiny? Fix this NOW Discuss any changes in editorial direction with your editor, Anita, and prepare a new story outline if necessary Ensure you know what your story peg/hook is – usually, but not always, this is a human interest angle/striking quote.
FACTUAL RESEARCH – FILING STORY ELEMENTS BY 31 JULY You must do your factual research in advance You will have to file THREE OR MORE story elements by end of July. These will be agreed in the individual meetings on THURSDAY AND FRIDAY this week and can include quick guides, timelines, profiles, factboxes, and case studies. Well have more on that in the web presentation. THESE SHOULDNT BE A PROBLEM, AS YOU WILL HAVE COMPLETED YOUR FACTUAL RESEARCH WELL BEFORE THE END OF JULY IT ALSO HELPS YOU TO ORGANISE ALL THE ELEMENTS COVERED IN YOUR STORY
EXAMPLES OF FACTUAL ELEMENTS TO BE FILED BY 31 JULY For example, Slobodanka will need to inform her readers about existing extradition agreements within non–EU Balkan states and EU states. This might be best done as a at–a–glance guide or one or two factfiles. As another example, Elira will need to inform her readers as to what the KLA is, the background to war crimes allegations and the Marty Report. These might be best done as a profile of the KLA, a quick guide/at a glance guide to the Marty Report, a timeline of the conflict and an explainer of war crimes. Ruzica, might consider a quick guide to employment legislation in Croatia regarding age discrimination, compare to EU states and outline key case law at ECJ. She might also consider a factfile giving statistics on number of over 55s out of work, for how long (months, years?), chances of getting employment attributed to government employment department and/or a relevant NGO. She might also consider very well sourced and verified case studies. Dejan may do a timeline of key events in the 90s relating to his story, so the reader isnt lost in detail. Stevan will need to do money trails, quick guides to EU money laundering directives and Serbia/local legislation and practice DONT PRESUME KNOWLEDGE ON THE PART OF THE READER
AND FINALLY Save all notes and recordings for some time after your story is published You will need these in case your story is challenged The usual period that UK journalists keep notebooks, recordings, documents and other materials for is three years