covering terrorism and war

Burkinabè journalist Mariam Ouédraogo is dedicated to covering war and its devastating consequences on civilians in her native country of Burkina Faso.

For a series of reports in which she documented the horrors experienced by women, including rape and assault by terrorist groups in the West African country, she became the first female African journalist to win the prestigious Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Award in 2022.

This year, Ouédraogo is a 2023 ICFJ Knight International Journalism Award winner, celebrated for her impactful reporting and commitment to covering sensitive issues with tact.

Ouédraogo prioritizes survivors’ experiences and perspectives in her work; journalism should center humanity, she believes. This can take a mental toll, however: Ouédraogo took a break from reporting due to effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. “I’ve been working on getting better; it’s become part of my daily routine,” she said.

During a recent ICFJ French Crisis Reporting Forum session, Ouédraogo reflected on her reporting about women affected by terrorism and shared insights and advice for conducting investigations on sensitive topics. She discussed how to responsibly interview subjects about these issues, and offered advice for how journalists can take care of themselves along the way.

Here are some key takeaways.

Define your objectives

Through her reporting, Ouédraogo has sought to “comprehend and elaborate on the phenomenon [of sexual violence], uncover the extent of the violence and document the resilience strategies of survivors.”

Journalists should establish clear objectives before heading to the field to report, she advised. “It’s vital to understand how to approach victims, as they are enduring immense pain,” she said. “When you’re delving into such sensitive issues, it’s crucial to adapt to the reality, exercise patience and display sensitivity. Building a rapport is about maintaining a human connection, not just assuming the role of a journalist.”

Continue reading

by Iragi Elisha, International Journalists’ Network

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

Leave A Comment

Related posts

Magazine Training International’s mission is to encourage, strengthen, and provide training and resources to Christian magazine publishers as they seek to build the church and reach their societies for Christ.