“Bang-Bang Club” war correspondents at Master-class
Photo: James Oatway/Sunday Times
From death threats in Swaziland to disappearances in Zimbabwe, journalists in southern Africa face danger in many guises. Journalists and their commissioning, news and picture editors need to understand, assess and manage the very real threats they face daily, whether covering open warfare in an exotic land, or a deceptively milder civil dispute much closer to home.
Whether covering service-delivery protests in Gugulethu or aerial bombardments in Gaza, journalists need to anticipate, assess and counteract threats to their lives, their editorial independence and their ability to get the story.
Field reporters and their line managers need to devise practical solutions to issues including: preparations like finding reliable fixers, drivers and translators; exit strategies; what equipment is necessary; conflict-related first aid; international safety conventions; the isolation of field work; the logistical challenges to be surmounted; the fraught question of interviewing child victims and child perpetrators; the ethics and compromises of operating in combat zones; the specific threats to female correspondents and support staff; and the question of “embedding” with, or even merely travelling alongside, armed forces and police.
This year, thanks to funding by Kgolo Trust, frayintermedia updated and improved its training of conflict coverage with an intensive one-day workshop in June titled the Gugulethu to Gaza Conflict Reporting Master-class. The seminar discussed international best practice in conflict coverage and local and continental news-gathering conditions – with an eye to the future by transferring skills to ensure the debate on the safety of journalists continues.
The day’s programme included:
- Greg Marinovich (Pulitzer Prize photojournalism winner, former “Bang-Bang Club” member and documentary film-maker) on covering civil conflict
- Jean-Jacques Cornish (correspondent, Radio France International and Talk Radio 702) on the importance of cultural knowledge
- Birgit Schwarz (frayintermedia project director and former Der Spiegel Africa correspondent) on interviewing child victims and child perpetrators
- Erika Gibson (military correspondent, Beeld) in conversation with Stephan Hofstätter (contributing editor, Business Day / Financial Mail) on reporting the aftermath in Gaza
- João Silva (award-winning former member of the “Bang-Bang Club” and now New York Times photographer in Iraq and Afghanistan) on covering war-zones
- Jerome Delay (chief photographer: Africa, The Associated Press) who took participants through hostile environment training