YANGON (March 11, 2014) – At a session today of the East-West Center International Media Conference, a group of foreign correspondents discussed the challenges they and their colleagues face as they try to do their jobs.
Jim Brooke, the incoming editor of Cambodia Daily, noted recent struggles involving the intentional targeting of journalists. “The Ukrainian riot police were apparently aiming at photographers,” he said. “You had 167 journalists injured. There was a consensus that photographers were being targeted.” He advised attendees working in such conflict zones or areas that may be dangerous to “do [your work] quick. Do it clean. Do it fast … if you go in and out, you can report a story without getting caught.”
Kathleen McLaughlin, a freelancer based in China, said foreign reporters often experience pressure from the Chinese government in the form of detentions, denied visa applications or other police harassment. While acknowledging that such intimidation can lead to self-censorship by foreign journalists who do not want to be thrown out of the country, McLaughlin said that “whatever kind of pressure we come under from the Chinese government, Chinese reporters have it 100 times worse.” She advised journalists working with fixers to stand by them in the face of police opposition or intimidation.
Patrick Boehler, who covers Chinese for Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, said journalists should use local scholars and academics as points of contact when covering unfamiliar areas in order to get a baseline level of analysis. For example, he noted that covering Chinese interests can be difficult because sometimes the local concept of “China” may relate to the government, corporations or other interest groups.
– Reporting by Casey Morell, Missouri School of Journalism