“Real reporting or just retweeting?”

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(left to right) Govan Whittles (EWN), Borrie La Grange (MSF Southern Africa), Shannon Ebrahim (Independent Media Group), Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi (WJP)

Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi, Project Coordinator of the Wits Justice Project, recently formed part of a media panel discussion entitled “Real reporting or just retweeting?” held at the Wits School of Journalism.

The event, hosted by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), aimed to initiate a debate around the role of mainstream and social media in reporting on humanitarian crises.

Nooshin was one of four panellists on the night including Govan Whittles of Eye-Witness News, Shannon Ebrahim of the Independent Media Group and Borrie Le Grange from MSF South Africa.

There was a consensus among panellists that social media has changed the way news is both consumed and produced, but that such platforms should be seen as a complement rather than a threat.

In particular, Nooshin stressed that a democratisation of storytelling, through mediums like Twitter and Facebook, necessitates more comprehensive coverage of humanitarian issues by mainstream media.

“War, famine, drought, floods – everybody knows they are happening, everybody records them as they happen; but what they don’t know is the geo-political, socio-economic and historical antecedents of these events. And that is the expertise that media and development professionals will provide.”

At the crux of the debate was the relationship between journalists and NGOs with many on the panel calling for greater communication between the two.

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(left to right) Govan Whittles (EWN), Borrie La Grange (MSF Southern Africa), Shannon Ebrahim (Independent Media Group), Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi (WJP)

Shannon challenged humanitarian organisations to develop a better understanding of the way newsrooms works and to take into account the constraints faced by many mainstream newsrooms today.

Nooshin went a step further to point out the importance of thorough and in-depth coverage in holding humanitarian organisations to account.

“It would be self-defeating to not keep as close an eye on such agencies as we should do governments and corporates. That is the role of the media after all: to be the public’s watchdog.”

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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