What are best practice guides? – In journalism, best practice guides are guiding principles, standards and methods to ensure that the reporting of certain topics is fair and ethical.
Why do we need to use best practice guides? As journalists, we often enter communities which we know little about, and even with the best intentions, the way we represent those groups can maintain stereotypes and/or cause harm. For example, when interviewing children or people who have experienced trauma we need to be extremely mindful and interview in a way that causes no harm – sometimes it’s not appropriate for a journalist to interview at all. For another example the language journalists use is important; previously the mainstream term for people living with disabilities in China was can fei” (残废), which means “useless”. Right now, the widely used term is “can ji” (残疾), which means “deformed”. A better term is the more neutral “can zhang” (残障). In English people living with a disability are often called disabled, but see the difference between – ‘The disabled girl‘ and ‘The girl living with a disability’. In the first phrase, disabled becomes the main identity of the girl, in the second it does not.
As journalists, we need to be aware of our own biases and assumptions and challenge them. We need to seek out and employ best practice guidelines relevant to the stories we report, especially when working with vulnerable and minority groups such as children ethnic or sexual minorities.
Take a look at the best practice guide here and find your own, if you can find some local Chinese ones all the better. You may follow one set or combine and convert a few into your own set of guidelines and ethical approach. You will need to clearly state your guidelines and approach in your production brief.
Interviewing & filming children
It’s quite common for IMMJMA students to work with children. When filming or interviewing children it’s essential to respect and protect them. If you will be working with children, read the guidelines below and ensure that you speak with your tutor before you go into the field.
You should seek the consent of the parent or guardian and be sure that a responsible adult is present. Let the child know what you are doing and that they should feel comfortable to answer or not answer any questions. Keep checking in with them to ensure they are comfortable. Do not interview children with trauma.
“Guiding Principle: The guiding, overarching principle is that due care must be taken over the physical and emotional welfare and the dignity of people under 18 who take part in or are otherwise involved in programs, from initial approach to transmission and beyond.” – Channel 4
Read them all and pick out the points that apply – make your own short guide.
There’s a ton of resources included in this article:
On nearly a daily basis, journalists find themselves covering stories about crime and violence in their communities. When reporters starting looking for the “why” behind the story, they sometimes discover the people involved have a history of behavioral health problems, including mental illness and substance abuse.
Advocates say it is important for journalists to avoid stereotypes when covering these issues, and report fairly and sensitively about those affected. RTDNA links to several resources to aid in developing coverage.
The NCDJ was founded in 1998 in San Francisco as the Disability Media Project to raise awareness of how the news media cover people with disabilities. The organization was renamed in 2000 and moved to the Cronkite School in 2009.
NCDJ’s disability style guide is available on the organization’s website or as a printable PDF at http://ncdj.org/style-guide/
Also see https://www.cjr.org/the_feature/journalism-disability-beat.php
Best Practices for reporting gender and sexual minorities
The first thing you need to decide on is if someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation is even relevant to the story you are telling. If it’s not, leave it out.
- Gender Issues
- http://niemanreports.org/articles/covering-the-transgender-community/ – this is great!
Concealing Identity when filming or photographing
Occasionally it may be necessary to protect the anonymity of the people you document. Here are some tips from Witness http://www.fahamu.org/resources/CONCEALING_IDENTITY.pdf. Here are some more Techniques for Protecting Anonymity in Videos.