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Reporting Human Rights


Susana Sampaio-Dias

Reporting Human Rights provides a systematic examination of human rights news and reporting practices from inside the world of television news production.

From an interdisciplinary perspective, the book discusses the potential of journalism in contributing to human rights protection, awareness and debate, in ignoring, silencing or misrepresenting human rights issues around the world or, in extreme situations, in inciting hatred, genocide and crimes against humanity. It provides insight into how journalists translate human rights issues, revealing different reporting patterns and levels of detail in reporting, and suggesting different levels of engagement with human rights problems.

The book explains the most important factors that encourage or limit the coverage of human rights news. Grounded in a close examination of the news production processes and key moments where possible human rights stories are contemplated, decided or eventually ignored, the book opens up new insights into the complexities and constraints of human rights reporting today.

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Chapter 2. Human Rights and Journalism: The High Road or the Road to Nowhere?


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Delving deeper into the debate surrounding the responsibility regarding human rights and the media, this chapter is divided into three parts. Drawing upon previous studies about the media’s coverage of suffering, the chapter first questions the potential of the media to inspire the existence of a global moral space. The second section elaborates on the theoretical suggestion that there is a ‘responsibility to report’ human rights violations because of the failures of the past. Finally, the third section explores how journalism can either be seen as a promoter of human rights or used as a tool to incite violence and hatred. It also investigates how the rise of Internet technologies has boosted both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ journalism and eventually created further human rights dilemmas.

Moral responsibility of journalism

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