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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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This book has studied the connection between human rights and journalism and the importance of the latter in informing citizens about the world they live in. Journalism, along with governments, courts, and NGOs, possesses the cultural authority to define human rights and promote public debate and deliberation (Benhabib, 2007; Nash, 2009). History reveals cases of successful media intervention in which pressure is placed on governments to solve cases of human rights violations, but it also reveals cases where the media were used precisely for the opposite purpose—that is, to incite racial, national, or religious hatred and genocide. Given this two-pronged potential of media and news journalism to influence the course of conflicts and human rights violations, it becomes essential to conduct mindful research and analysis of media outcomes, effects, and production.

Of all possible approaches, this book has employed Portuguese public service television (RTP) as a case study and as an example of the functioning of a mainstream broadcast newsroom operating in a democratic country with a free press. Despite some particularities intrinsic to the characteristics of the nation in which this newsroom is located, the study and its findings may be replicable or applied to other newsrooms with the same structure and that operate under similar conditions. ← 187 | 188 →

Considering that the role of journalism regarding human rights must be examined not only by analysing media content and its effect on audiences, this book has set out to observe and analyse journalistic...

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