Covering the Syrian conflict : how Middle East reporters deal with challenging situations
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Media, war & conflict. - London, 2008, currens
, p. 1-19
University of Antwerp
Reporters covering the Middle East are often confronted with situations where information is notoriously hard to verify and where confrontations with witnesses harsh realities can be extraordinarily intense. How does one deal with claims that there are no chemical weapons in Syria, for instance, if no foreign visitors are allowed to enter the neighbourhoods where the attacks allegedly took place? And how far does one go in adopting or contextualizing the story of a crying little girl blaming terrorists for destroying her life if you are taken to her by a regime official, who considers every form of opposition an act of terror? Under such conditions, reporters can hardly rely upon seemingly self-evident routines, nor can they simply revert to general values such as impartiality or bearing witness without much further ado. Instead, they find themselves forced to make judgements on particular situations time and time again. Based on 14 in-depth interviews with Dutch and Flemish reporters covering Syria, this article sets out to identify, first, the challenging situations with which these journalists have been confronted, and second, how they have responded to these challenges through the use of particular professional strategies. To explore these challenges and strategies, the article develops a theoretical and methodological approach centred around situated value judgements.