Conflict zones: Working Conditions and the Danger of a Single Story

Exciting, glamorous and challenging: the reality of working as a war correspondent isn’t always being portrayed. What’s it like reporting from a conflict area, how do journalists cope with the situations that arise, and how should they?

The panellists: Moritz Gathmann, journalist with focus on Russia and Caucasia, peace activist Gülsen D., Christoph Dreyer from Reporters Without Border and Krsto Lazarevic, freelance journalist.

This is what twitter had to say during the discussion.


When moderator Maria Wölfle, journalist and menac team member, opened the panel by addressing the security issue aspects for journalists in conflict zones, Gathmann raised awareness concerning the possible impact of posts on journalists’ social media pages.

This point was also picked up by participants and further discussed on twitter by users not taking part in Rethinking Journalism on-site.




Another important point mentioned on the panel was on-the-ground security.


tweet6Moritz Gathmann quoted a journalist who said that in extreme situations, such as being arrested-you stop being a journalist and get involved in interaction with the people around you and the ones who arrested you.


When the discussion ventured in the direction of coping with psychological aspects of working in conflict areas, Dreyer mentioned trainings for journalists.


However, according to a participant in the audience, this isn’t necessarily a solution.

tweet9There seemed to be agreement that writing in and from conflict zones also means knowing one´s own limits.




Panellist Gülsen D. stressed the advice given by war correspondent Simone Schlindwein from our first panel discussion on Monday.


The panel further discussed the ethics, quality, and techniques of reporting from conflict zones.



Another topic covered in the panel discussion was the actual impact of reporting in and from conflict zones.




Due to lack of time, not all topics the audience would have liked to discuss were covered in the 1,5 hour long panel.


The Danger of a Single Story, and other things to reflect on:

The second part of the day focused on input on ethical journalism by peace activist Gülsen D. The sessions were interactive, and included a Skype conversation with an ICT security expert and plenty of videos.

Gülsen started off with a brief version of Chimamanda Adichie´s Ted talk “The Danger of a Single Story”. The purpose of this video was to reflect on how we as journalists ourselves might reproduce the “Single Story”, and how this could be avoided.

Watch the full video here:

Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

Another video was shown to discuss the impacts for journalists when a reporter misses a story.

Roy Gutman on Missing the Real Story in the war in Croatia

In this one you can find a general overview on security.

The Heat: Reporting from conflicts and war zones 2.
What challenges do they face and why do they do it? Courtney Radsch is the Advocacy Director for the Committee to Protect Journalists. Asra Nomani is an author, journalist and activist, she was also a close friend of journalist Daniel Pearl who was brutally murdered by al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

and here a specific overview of security in war zones.

James Nachtwey on Dangers in Covering War in African conflicts

This leads us to the psychosocial effects of war.

Savasi Anlatan Kadinlar – Sofia Amara

Finally, a video on war and conflict reporting.

Lindsey Hilsum – Savasi Anlatan Kadinlar Fragman

Text by Lisa Zeller


Rethinking Journalism: Editorial Team

The media production at Rethinking Journalism starts today and we are happy to introduce to you our editorial team.


Joyce Taylor, editor-in-chief

A complex lass smitten with high tea and rainy gloom, Joyce Taylor was born and raised South Florida, but grew up in the Pacific Northwest and considers herself more a hippy at heart. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies and a master’s degree in Media Studies & Sociology. Joyce currently resides in Berlin, where she freelances as a media consultant.

Maria Wölfle, facilitator

Maria holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology and Communication Science and is about to finish her MA in Political Science. Her focus is on the relation between religion, culture and politics, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. She has been studying and working as a freelance journalist in Buenos Aires and done internships at a magazine in Dubai and TV channels in Berlin. She is currently based in Hamburg, Germany.

Assaad Thebian, facilitator

Assaad is a freelance journalist and blogger from Beirut. He currently runs a media and research center project specialised in monitoring the Lebanese media sphere ( He is a digital media strategist and trainer, a certified Google Analytics and Advertisements, and winner of the ArabNet 2013 Creative Combat.

Pascale Müller, facilitator

Pascale is a freelance journalist on MENA politics, women’s rights and Islamic terror. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and Political Science and studied at the Danish School of Journalism. Currently she fights the hopelessness of the German province in Reutlingen, where she lives and studies at the journalism school “Zeitenspiegel Reportageschule”.

“Of Icebergs, Onions, and Trees”

Here’s a recap of the first two days of Rethinking Journalism project taking place in Berlin this week.

press release
Rethinking Journalism was officially launched by project coordinator Anna Saraste at the European Information Centre.

Strangers became friends during the introduction sessions that were facilitated by Katarzyna Mortoń, board member of European Youth Press (EYP):


Participants introduced themselves to each other using a  “Speed Dating” format.

The “What is Conflict?” session was delivered by Vanessa Bassil, founder of the Media Association for Peace. Vanessa went into detail about conflict analysis tools. Did you know that icebergs, onions, and trees can be used to analyse conflicts? Participants then discussed these tools and metaphors with Vanessa and each other.

10403474_713510535406127_7176100753784515245_n - Kopie
The “Journalist as an observer or activist?” panel discussion with Vanessa Bassil; Linda Walter, researcher on European & International Politics at European University Viadrina; and Simone Schlindwein, war correspondent from the Great Lakes region. The panel was moderated by Rebecca Bengtsson, lecturer in New Media, ICT and Development at Malmö University and board member of the European Youth Press.

Day 2

The second day started off at our new venue at Rosa Luxemburg Foundation with more sessions, group activities and further discussions about conflicts and the concept of peace journalism.10613087_713836158706898_5151042783628504348_n

The day ended with a guided tour through Berlin. In line with our overall topic – conflicts – our guides especially showed us places that had a history with conflicts.IMG_1044

Text: Lisa Zeller
Photo credits: Assaad Thebian, Katarzyna Morton

*This post has been edited*

Rethinking Journalism: Trainers

Vanessa Basil

Vanessa Bassil photo

Vanessa Bassil is a freelance journalist, peace activist and trainer. She is the Founder & President of Media Association for Peace- MAP, the 1st NGO in Lebanon & MENA region dedicated to work on Peace Journalism. She holds BA’s in Journalism and in Political and Administrative Sciences. She also earned a Master degree in Media, Peace and Conflict studies at the UN Mandated University for Peace, Costa Rica, where she has developed the concept of Peace Journalism in her thesis from the approach of a critical peace research agenda. Ms Bassil reported for five years for Lebanese and Foreign media outlets, covering social, political and youth issues and writing about peace stories.

Gulsen D.

Gulsen is a media development trainer and coach, who studied International Relations and Arabic Language and Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She has lived in Cairo, Istanbul, Beirut, Amsterdam, Sarajevo, and now she is working with Syrian media activists.

The biographies were provided by the trainers.

Workshop week Rethinking Journalism Monday, Sept. 15 – Sunday Sept. 21

press release

“Journalism can never be silent;
that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault.” (Henry Anatole Grunwald)

Within the context of conflicts, journalists have the professional responsibility to avoid stereotypes and contribute to a better understanding of the conflict and its solution.

From September 15-21, 30 young media makers and journalists from Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Latvia, Lebanon, Austria, and Tunisia will be meeting in Berlin to venture deeper into this topic. Beginning with a broader understanding of the term “conflict” that includes but also goes beyond so-called conflict zones, the young journalists will learn about concepts of peace journalism and conflict-sensitive reporting.

After theoretical introductions to these topics by notable peace journalists Vanessa Bassil (Founder of the Media Association for Peace in Lebanon), participants will then delve into practical media analysis. This analysis will serve as the basis for guidelines on conflict reporting that the participants will set up. These guidelines will be applied in media products that will be produced from Thursday until the end of the workshop week. A magazine featuring written pieces will be released online shortly after the event.

The project is carried out by the European Youth Press in cooperation with six partner organisations and the support of Linke Medienakademie. It is funded by the European Commission, German Foreign Ministry, and the Rosa Luxemburg foundation.

During the project, two panel discussions featuring notable conflict reporters, activists, and scientists will take place. The panel sessions are open to the public. The first, about Journalists as activists or observers, was held on September 15. The second, about working conditions for journalists in conflict zones, will take place on September 17.

An International Peace Day celebration will fittingly conclude the event on September 21.

Among the participants in Berlin will be remarkable journalists, bloggers, and activists.

For questions and interviews, please refer to project coordinator Anna Saraste:

*****This post has been edited******

Rethinking Journalism: Introducing the Participants

Menac introduces to you the next eleven participants of the Rethinking Journalism session.

Aya Chebbi (Tunisia)


Aya Chebbi is an award winning pan-Africanist activist and renowned blogger. Her passion for storytelling has taken her to over 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where conflicts are complex to deconstruct. She has written pieces for Arab, American, German, Swedish, British and South African magazines and websites with a keen focus on social movements, human rights, peace and conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. Interested in filmmaking, peace and conflict, Aya produced long documentary “Africa Inspire: Kenya’s Conscious Transformation” and short documentary “Arab Muslims Living in the USA”, which was shortlisted for PLURAL + 2013 Youth Video Festival.

Kathrin Faltermeier (Germany)


Kathrin studied Political Sciences in Germany and France and holds a Masters degree in „International Political Journalism“ from Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence. She worked as a journalist in Senegal and was editorial assistant for the European online magazine Cafébabel. She currently lives in Tunis.

Emmanuel Haddad (Lebanon)


Emmanuel has been a freelance journalist for 3 years and reported from zones of political unrest and conflict for the last 2 years, in countries such as Niger, Mali, Lebanon and Iraq. He tries to work on the margins of a conflict, on how it affects people in their every day life, strategies of survival and resistance to violence, and not only on the political and military aspects of it. Emmanuel’s work has been published in media such as Le Courrier, La Liberté, Sept, Alternatives Internationales, La Cité, Jeune Afrique, L’Express, Regards, Imagine, Terra Eco.

Sally Eshun (Germany)


Sally is an editor-in-chief of a youth magazine (FREIHAFEN) and contributing editor at local online magazine. She thinks it is important to question news reporting on sensitive issues and to contribute to a de-escalating atmosphere as a journalist. Especially in war zones.

Katharina Walbert (Austria)


Katharina is 19 years old and is studying Journalism and Communication studies in Vienna. She is board member of Youth Press Austria and did journalistic work for different magazines. Katharina is fascinated about journalism since she is a little kid, like when she worked for her school magazin at the age of 10.

Inasa Bibic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)


Although born and raised in Sarajevo, Inasa has lived in Berlin for 2 years now. As a student of Humanities, the Arts and Social Thought at Bard College Berlin, she is very much interested in the interconnectedness of the world, people and all phenomena that surround us. It is through (mostly journalistic) writing and photography that she has found he mediums of expressing these things. Inasa strongly believes that people can be impacted through powerful storytelling and imagery. Making these mediums impactful is still a learning path for her. One of the main reasons she applied for “Rethinking Journalism” is exactly thanks to its plethora of topics, as well as combined theoretical and practical work. As somebody interested in interdisciplinary fields and socially aware creative work, she believes trainings such as this one can be more helpful in forming a professional path (or a life call) than four years of college often are. There comes a time when you just have to go out there and do what feels right for you, and not what the books have been telling you your whole life.

Helene Timm (Germany)


Helene Timm has always liked to be engaged in a variety of projects with lots of different people. Writing became one of the most important tools to communicate with others and spread the word about social, cultural or political issues. But whenever she takes a look at the news, I feel like media is not making too much of an effort to search for peaceful solutions but is focusing on the downfalls in the world. That is why she likes to see media as an opportunity for herself and everyone else to change the world-view.

Hend Kortam (Egypt)


Hend Kortam is a 22-year old, Cairo-based journalist. I love traveling because it is an enriching and life-changing experience that provides an opportunity to meet and bond with people from different countries and to learn about different cultures. Writing news for print and online media is what she does the best. That means that she often finds herself writing about countries in conflict, an often challenging task, both on the personal and professional levels. For the time being, she will do all she can to provide accurate and objective reporting on the developing crises in the region, until the day that the Middle East will have peace.

Radhouane Addala (Tunisia)


Radhouane Addala is a a freelance correspondent and producer based in Tunis with experience working across the Maghreb for international news agencies as a reporter, stringer and fixer. He now mostly works with television and as the LA Times’ special correspondent in Tunisia.

Teresa Mayr (Austria)


Teresa finished BA in African Studies last year and she is about to finish he BA in International Development at the University of Vienna. She just started a Masters in Social Economy and Social Work at the FH Campus Wien – University of Applied Sciences. Teresa’s last internship was at the Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management. Besides she is working with the Diakonie for the Ecumenical Accompany Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), she was an EA in 2012 and spent 3 months in Palestine and Israel.

Yara Nahle (Lebanon)


Yara is a student and journalist from Lebanon. She writes in local media outlets. She is interested in the political, economic and social structures of my country and the region. And she believes in empowering the youth and activating its participation in shaping these structures. Hence, most of her writings are concerned with the youth and their role. She is also aiming at involving herself in types of journalism other than print. She believes in the great role the media can play to influence the course of events, that is why she chose to enter such an influential field of life, and she will only try to use it in a way as to make it exercise a more positive impact on the world.

Nedim Hadrovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)


Nedim is a people person and loves cultures and colorful food. He has spent the majority of his life living and studying abroad, from the Middle East to the Far East. He graduated with a Digital Media and Film degree and is an aspiring journalist, media expert, and filmmaker. His visual work has been shown at galleries and festivals in Malaysia, Singapore and New York City, and he has written for Deutsche Welle and OpenDemocracy. He is currently preparing his feature documentary on the Bosnian Jewish community.

Rethinking Journalism: Introducing the Participants

In one week over thirty young media makers from Algeria, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Germany, Latvia and Lebanon will gather in Berlin for the 2014 session of Rethinking Journalism.

Menac introduces to you the first ten of them!

Alicia Prager (Austria)


Alicia is studying Political Science and International Development in Vienna. In the course of her studies, she is focusing on European integration as well as on the field of International Relations. Alicia is passionate about journalism ever since she worked at the students’ department of an Austrian newspaper during high school. She believes that journalists play a crucial part in shaping the public opinion and in forming prejudices and stereotypes. This makes it very important that journalists are aware of their possible influence on society.

Agnija Kazusa (Latvia)


Agnija is a freelance journalist, blogger and youth worker. In the past, she has worked as an editor-in-chief for a local newspaper, hosted a radio show and coordinated several youth projects with FEJS (Forum for European Journalism Students) Latvija. Agnija is currently involved in several writing projects, her blog being one of them. Just as she can’t imagine her life without coffee and music, she can’t imagine journalism without accurate and emphatetic reporting especially in the times of wars, conflicts, riots and tragedies.

Ahlem Henchiri (Tunisia)


Ahlem is 23 years old and teaches English. She wants to develop her journalistic skills and become more professional. She is also an active member of AJMEC in Tunisia.

Boro Todorović (Bosnia and Herzegovina)


Boro is a 21-year old journalism student from Bosnia who want to change journalism in his country. He aspires to be a journalist who helps people to find peaceful solutions and thus stop conflicts.

Ahmed Medien (Tunisia)


Ahmed Medien is a recent business graduate from Tunis, Tunisia. He works at the moment as a freelance marketer and writer and aims to achieving work-location independence.

Anne Steinbach (Germany)


Anne is a Berlin-based journalism student who has travelled the world for the last couple of years, and also possesses a strong passion for journalism. Developing countries, sustainable issues and the ever-changing field of journalism with its fast development belong to her greatest interests.

Irina Scheitz (Austria)


Irina loves writing, particularly about people’s realities, their culture, their fears and dreams. She studied social and cultural anthropology in Vienna and Ireland and developed an interest in societies in conflict. Irina thinks it is crucial to see the individual stories in order to understand the reasons behind a conflict.

Massinissa Benlakehal (Algeria)


Massinissa Benlakehal is a journalist based between Algiers and Tunis. His articles and photographs focus on issues relating to various social, political and security topics, as well as local development in North Africa, including Algeria, Tunisia and the Sahel. After seven years as a staff reporter for Algerian outlets, and a two-year experience with Algerie Presse Service (APS), Massinissa decided to become a freelance journalist aiming at covering conflict and war areas.

Mathias Birsens (Germany)


Mathias is studying Middle Eastern Studies in Hamburg. In addition, he is working as a journalist for the German Press Agency dpa and others as a journalist and photographer. He has been to the Middle East several times. Witnessing the Middle East conflict in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Mathias says was a breaking point for his awareness for the difficulties related to conflict-sensitive reporting.

Dhaker Youssef (Tunisia)


Dhaker is 24 years old, and he graduated last year with a degree in English business. He is an open-minded and sharing person. He has participated in many projects concerning journalism and had experience in university radio. Dhaker is active in the Tunisian youth organisation AJMEC.