War Crimes, Human Rights and Press Freedom: The Journalist's Job

By Hume, Ellen | Nieman Reports, Summer 1999 | Go to article overview

War Crimes, Human Rights and Press Freedom: The Journalist's Job


Hume, Ellen, Nieman Reports


Ethnic conflict in the Balkans provides examples of crimes of war and abuses of human rights that journalists are being increasingly called upon to cover. A new book entitled "Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know," edited by Roy Gutman and David Rieff, was created to educate the news media and others about violations of humanitarian law. This book is commented on by Ellen Hume, former Executive Director of PBS's Democracy Project and Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, and by John Shattuck, United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic and the former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Our focus then turns to examining the plight of journalists and media institutions covering the war in Yugoslavia. Dragan Cicic, a Yugoslav journalist who worked for B92, an independent radio station that was shut down by Pres. Slobodan Milosevic, writes about the death of journalism in Serbia. Ardian Arifaj, Editor of the Albanian-language newspaper KOHA Ditore, once published in Kosovo, tells of its rebirth in exile in Macedonia. Chris Hedges, who reported on the Balkans for The New York Times, explores dilemmas journalists confront in writing "the truth" of what they see. Michael Kirkhorn, Director of the Journalism Program at Gonzaga University, questions the role journalists should assume as moral arbiters. …

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