Rethinking journalism practice through innovative approaches to post conflict reporting
Start date: 12 September 2019
Journalism has a long history of interviewing vulnerable people caught up in natural disasters, conflict or tragedy. While it is widely recognised that journalists have an important role to play in telling the stories of those traumatised by such events, the concepts of ‘peace journalism’ or ‘journalism of attachment’ have often elicited a negative reaction in traditional journalistic circles. Drawing on the authors’ research project working with young people embroiled in Colombia’s civil conflict, this paper sets out an alternative and innovative approach to the retelling of the stories of others. It outlines how the research team engaged with the young people, some of whom had operated as child soldiers before Colombia’s peace accord with FARC rebels, and encouraged them to narrate their own stories in their own style. Through a series of workshops, the team experimented with oral and visual representations of their experiences, staying close to their accounts, enabling their voices to be heard. The participants combined traditional narrative with animation to produce a short documentary setting out their hopes for peace and reconciliation. This project, with its focus on immersion and listening, offers an alternative approach for journalists trying to relay the experiences of traumatised individuals marginalised in society as a result of their participation in the armed conflict. While the project was located in the specific context of Colombia, the paper argues that the journalistic approaches used could be applied more widely to the reporting of trauma in post conflict or marginalised communities.