30 August 2018
Posteado en : Opinion
Juan Antonio Aunión, from El País, explains his experience in the journalistic reporting workshop he led in Bolivia as part of the project against drug trafficking and human trafficking
Few jobs have such a frenetic pace as that of a journalist. Day-to-day urgencies rarely leave room for reflection on our own work, to think carefully about the things we fail at, the things we do well in, and especially about what we can do to improve. That is why I appreciate my work as a professor at the UAM-El País School of Journalism, because it forces me to reflect on all this. It is also why I accepted, without giving it a second thought, the FIIAPP’s invitation to lead the International Workshop on journalistic reporting on the prevention of drug use and human trafficking, issues that are so important and so serious that they deserve even more care and self-criticism when dealing with them in the media. The workshop was held in La Paz, Bolivia, in coordination with the Coordination Secretariat of CONALTID and with the funding of the European Union and the AECID.
In that context, the most logical thing for me to do was to propose, from the beginning, a joint five-day reflection with the participants, about twenty professionals from the Bolivian press, radio and television. Precisely, the diversity of the group (not only because they came from different media, but also because some were very young, newcomers to the trade, while others were seasoned journalists with decades of experience behind them) ended up contributing enormously to the workshop. But it was also the main difficulty, solved, in any case, by the chosen format: brief presentations accompanied by many examples of reference texts, a format which allowed us to immediately put into practice all the ideas and techniques presented, along with a lot of interaction and a lot of dialogue.
This practical task consisted of writing a report about drug use or human trafficking. This enabled us to review the entire journalistic process, from the choice of topic, its development, documentation, field work, to the writing and editing (or in this case, proofreading). This way, we managed to delve deeper into fiction techniques that might enable us to present our work in a deeper and more attractive way, without ever losing sight of the strengths of any journalistic text: honesty, rigour, fact-checking each piece of information and giving the context needed to understand complex realities. That’s on top of striking the essential balance between professional distance and the sensitivity required when dealing with social issues in general, and drugs and human trafficking in particular.
Many of the problems that the students faced are the same ones Spanish professionals face in our daily work: how to approach the characters, how to present the story and make it attractive, what part of the information, obtained with great effort, to leave out to improve the end result, etc. However, others had to do with traits unique to Bolivia, which has its own working conditions and cultural environment, for example the bureaucratic written procedure necessary to request almost any official information. The answers that we all gave to these problems, at the peak of their experience and mine, were the most interesting part of the course, at least for me, and I think it also has a lot to do with the philosophy of the work that FIIAPP does in all the countries it is present in.
Apart from that, my objective for this course was to give the participants a series of tools to tell, in a slightly more attractive and familiar way, both the big stories, those large-scale events that the media relies on, as well as the small everyday stories, those that have to be covered at full speed, but which also deserve, apart from the essential rigour, all the care and affection we can give. Especially when dealing with sensitive issues such as those that have to do with drug use and human trafficking.
Juan Antonio Aunión, El País journalist specialising in social and educational issues
21 October 2016
Posteado en : Opinion
El próximo lunes, 24 de octubre celebramos el Día Mundial de Información sobre el Desarrollo. Ángel González Suárez, Técnico de la FIIAPP (Comunicación- Cooperación Española), nos cuenta lo que supone la comunicación y cómo podemos comunicar.
A few weeks ago, I read an interview with anthropologist Arturo Escobar. In it he expresses his ideas on many subjects, including the role of experts and social media. He showed himself to be critical of the social transformation capacity of these communication channels and expressed an unflattering view of experts. Reflecting on his statements, I found myself somewhat in ‘no man’s land’ because, while they seemed on target, my experience raised objections.
Today we are all experts on something. There may be someone who has not accepted it (although our browsing, increasingly specialised and segmented thanks to Google, suggests otherwise), but categories, tags and keywords are here to stay in our digital reality. And up to a certain point, it’s good that there are experts, not because one has to emulate or praise them but because their experience can be very important for others, provided they communicate it.
Direct and personal communication
Before encouraging the experts on development cooperation, and especially those who have not yet started using social media, I will take this opportunity to recall some of the channels and genres that can help them:
These are spaces that are open to creation, commentary and interaction. In Spain there are various, some journalistic in nature, with a community of contributors (El País or eldiario.es), others started in the world of DNGOs (Pobreza Cero , Fundación CIDEAL and the many run by Spanish DNGOs), by international bodies (World Bank) or the Spanish Public Administration (MAEC which also has created an important document on Digital Diplomacy;FIIAPP, or the Spanish Cooperation portal whose work I would like to promote).
· Video blogs
This is a genre that still has not taken hold among our experts. It involves a high degree of public exposure (hence the influence of YouTubers) but can also generate greater empathy in the public, more so than the written word. (I’m not aware of any Spanish examples, nor of ones in Spanish, that focus their content on development, so don’t hesitate to point them out in the comments section).
· Social Media
How networks are used depends a great deal on the characteristics of each channel. Twitter is not the same thing as Instagram, nor Facebook the same as LinkedIn. I recommend starting with Twitter due to its simplicity. There are many examples of good use made by its devotees; at @CooperacionESP we try to follow many accounts that work with diverse styles and objectives. It’s worthwhile to visit numerous profiles before starting one’s own and, always, much better to move into it gradually.
Despite this, many experts, mainly those working in public institutions, hardly use this media to transmit their knowledge. I know that it’s difficult and that there are good reasons as to why they don’t do so:
- Lack of time.
- Fear of public exposure.
- Self-exclusion from communication tasks.
- Rigidity in the institutional structure.
- Lack of confidence in one’s abilities.
However, I don’t just think that this is an error, but that boosting the use of social media would serve to improve institutional communication.
Communicate what you know how to do
I’ll give you an example. Recently I had the good fortune to share my workspace with various experts on diverse subjects, all related to the field of development cooperation.
I had never had the opportunity to learn about Spain’s gender policy, nor the implication of and degree of detail whichmultilateral cooperation requires. The same thing was true for me regarding the coordination of donors within the OECD, the flows of Official Development Assistance, the process of coordination of any position that represents Spain, the commitment to improving health systems and attention to childhood in other countries, or the need to better evaluate our work.
Everyone should know about these subjects, especially if their taxes are supporting them. The difference between me and anyone else is that I had access to an expert.
Spanish Cooperation has a tremendous panel of experts. I’ve been finding this out in the past two years. They have experience in other countries, knowledge, a good network of contacts and a great deal of documentation (that cannot be found on the Internet). In terms of communication, all of this is a rich vein. I think that they can improve the existing communities and strengthen social commitment to cooperation, which is already high.
Implementation of an easy-to-use communication system for experts in public administrations is not terribly complicated; France and the United Kingdom have already done it, and our experts as well, for example, in the field of education for development. That’s why I would like experts and specialists to get more involved in communication. Time is of the essence. I never tire of saying it; they already have the most important thing: knowledge. Transmitting is much easier.
Look at Natalia Lizeth López López. I’m convinced that she will become an expert; in fact she is already a good communicator who we would not know about if not for YouTube. The same is true of many assets from the Spanish Cooperation. (By the way, and this is key, one of its experts ‘told me about’ the link).
Written by Angel González, FIIAPP (Communication- Spanish Cooperation)