Jacobo Quintanilla
Jesse Hardman
Matt Abud
Alison Campbell
Deborah Ensor
Publication Date
Publication Date: 
April 10, 2014

"Media has a key role to play in a humanitarian crisis situation, one that goes beyond the simple documentation of a disaster. When populations are struggling for basic needs and rights, media can provide a basic crucial resource, INFORMATION."

From Internews, this manual and set of handouts present a combination of standard, professional reporting techniques for journalists covering humanitarian response scenarios along with basic education in and understanding of the humanitarian sector, its architecture, mandates, and modus operandi. The goal of the manual and handouts is to prepare journalists to cover natural and manmade disasters in a more informed, balanced way and to show how a utilitarian approach to information content and dissemination can be an effective life saver. It is intended to function as both an educational guide that journalists can read and learn from and as an outline for a workshop focusing on the training of local reporters.

The manual is divided into 3 parts:

  • "Section I: Information Saves Lives - Defining Humanitarian Response Reporting looks at the roles and challenges facing local journalists in a humanitarian response. It emphasises placing affected communities at the centre of reporting on a crisis.
  • Section II: What Happens in a Humanitarian Response? includes overviews of international humanitarian systems and mandates and national humanitarian responses. This section gives journalists the frameworks and definitions needed to cover an emergency response. These technical aspects require some adaptation to the appropriate level for training participants; additional introductory notes in this section suggest ways of achieving this.
  • Section III: In the Field brings together a range of practical skills and strategies for journalists, including basic journalism skills, strategies for impact, dealing with trauma (affecting both communities and journalists), and journalist safety and security."

"While every trainer has her own approach and will adapt activities and materials to match individual styles, Internews encourages the following approaches as key to effective practice:

  • Put Participants at the Centre: The key 'resource' of any training is the participants themselves - they bring a wealth of local knowledge and insights, as well as assumptions and sometimes prejudices. Many exercises in the early part of the manual are designed not to deliver facts but rather to gather and demonstrate what participants already know. Participants are therefore able to teach one another, and teach the trainer at the same time. This is the basis of effective pedagogy. Exercises that draw on participants' skills, knowledge, experiences, and understanding types have four broad goals within the course:
    1. To support a dynamic of positive collaboration, essential for both effective learning and for subsequent effective reporting
    2. To generate authentic critical engagement with course materials, not 'learning by rote'
    3. To ensure participants share their knowledge among themselves
    4. To ensure that the trainer can identify the skills and insights participants already have, and so determine how best to tailor training to fill any gaps that may exist, including any adaptations to manual material
  • Hands-On Fieldwork: Practical fieldwork is almost always the best way to develop skills. Trainers are encouraged to incorporate mentored coverage of humanitarian response needs in the participants' own country, including field trips. In some cases, for example where security is a prime concern, this may not be practical. The manual therefore includes role-plays through which participants can at least partially apply hands-on reporting skills in a classroom setting. (As outlined in the modules, role-plays may also be used for other purposes beyond 'substituting' for fieldwork.)
  • Collaborative Group Work: Internews encourages effective use of diverse small-group work. This approach may include ensuring that participants who come from different media outlets, different regions of the country, or different social and ethnic groups are brought together rather than simply forming groups with those they already know. Trainers should be sure to keep an eye on the dynamics between participants in different small groups. To facilitate this, Internews encourages simple seating arrangements that put participants in groups in a circular setting, allowing both small-group and whole-class activities.
  • Participants as Researchers: The manual is designed in the context of international humanitarian response, and many of the issues and principles it covers are broad. It has more information on international humanitarian responses because such responses are relatively uniform and somewhat standardised across different contexts, whereas national responses vary much more in different country contexts."

Internews website, May 2 2014.