The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched a joint project to boost and improve media reporting on forced labour and fair recruitment stories around the world. The first phase of this long-term project took place in Jordan in the first week of September, when more than 20 journalists and experts on forced labour issues gathered to share their experiences and discuss developing new tools to help media workers report on such sensitive and complicated issues.
During the three-day workshop, two trainers, Kevin Burden from the IFJ and Charles Autheman from the ILO, along with regional experts, led a top-level discussion on how to report on forced labour issues, and how to develop a toolkit to help journalists reporting on these stories on the ground. Participants came from a number of countries that are either part of migration corridors or target project countries.
At the outset the workshop focused on helping participants to understand forced labour and fair recruitment concepts; key definitions, facts and figures as well as relevant legal frameworks were explained during the first session.
During the second phase participants got key tips to find and identify forced labour stories. Journalists with a long experience of reporting on these issues, like Jordanian photojournalist Nadia Bseiso, shared their experiences and presented good reporting examples.
The third module addressed the challenges that journalists will meet once they’ve found a story and provided concrete tools and advice to improve reporting techniques.
“Journalism is a profession in very difficult times (…) the risks for journalists when reporting on this is that they are intimidated, put in prison, treated with violence etc. We are asking a lot from them when they are already on limit. It’s a big ask. That’s the biggest challenge”, said Kevin Burden, one of the trainers.
In the last two sessions, participants discussed best practices to make the most out of the material they’ve collected and, finally, how can their stories have an impact and lead to a concrete change.
“The main challenge is that we are trying to do something global and what we’ve seen during the workshop is that when you bring people from such different places (Niger, Malaysia, Jordan etc.) who are used to practice journalism in different ways..they have different approaches and different expectations, but they also share many things in common and we’re really interested in sharing their experience”, commented Charles Autheman.
Participants concluded the workshop with a discussion about developing further trainings at national level and strategies to make concrete plans to popularise the use of the toolkit in their countries. The debate generated a compilation of project ideas to be carried out in the following months in target countries with the support of both organisations.
“Participants have published challenging stories about fair recruitment and forced labour issues. They’ve shown this can be done. We count on them to roll out their enthusiasm and motivation to their peers around the world, not only in their countries but in neighbouring countries. We will support them in following training initiatives, with resources, with a communication network to maintain those high professional standards in reporting very difficult issues”, concluded Kevin Burden.