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Discussing the journalism of war

by Frédéric T. Muckle April 7, 2015
Discussing the journalism of war

Panel discusses dangers and triumphs of reporting from the field

Graphic by Marie-Pier LaRose.

Graphic by Marie-Pier LaRose.

Last Wednesday (April 1st), the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), in collaboration with the Montreal Press Club and the Canadian International Council (CIC), presented an online panel on war journalism titled “Iraq, and other wars: The risks of reporting from the field” at Concordia University.

The panellists were veteran journalists Michael Petrou (Maclean’s), CBC reporter Saša Petricic, and photojournalist Louie Palu. They were invited to talk about the difficulties presently facing war journalists who are willing to report from the field in the Middle East, and how the situation has changed in the war-torn region.

The event was organized to foster discussion among those who cover or work in these war zones.

Other countries not actually at war but suffering from widespread violence were also discussed—for example, Palu’s recent coverage of Mexico’s deadly drug trade.

The panelists notably discussed how the arrival of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) radically altered the landscape in the Middle East for journalists, who are now targeted as hostages or, in some cases, worse. As mentioned during the event, ISIS became known internationally as a serious threat when it broadcasted the decapitation of American journalist James Foley in 2014. The three panellists mentioned that this kind of tragedy, once perceived as uncommon, now affects the journalism world and the conditions in which they work to provide the right information to the public. Without journalists in the field to report, the world is often left in the dark about what truly happens in remote regions. Reporting usually ends up in the hands of citizens, who often risk their life to relay information from those areas.

They also discussed the different relationship that war journalists now have with the Canadian army, which denies access to some facilities, bases or regions, allegedly because the countries’ authorities don’t want journalists in high-risk zones.

The event was part of the CIC development of online discussions, which allow people from all around the country to participate in discussions between experts in the field, by asking questions on Twitter during the live presentation.

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For more information about past and future CIC events, visit opencanada.org.

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