Association drafts rules to interview refugees

‘Carta di Roma’ lists the correct rules for a good interview

25 September, 18:08

    (ANSAmed) - ROME - Italian association Charter of Rome, which monitors the correct information on migrants and refugees in Italy, has drafted a list of six rules it believes are fundamental for journalists to interview refugees in a correct manner. ''Propaganda, bad information and fake news describe a reality that doesn't exist and foster an inflammatory climate in the public opinion'', stressed journalist Alessandro Lanni, who drafted the list of recommendations for Carta di Roma.

    The recommendations were written with the help of Gavin Rees and Gill Moreton, respectively the director and a psychologist at the Dart Center, a project of the journalism school of Columbia University to raise reporters' awareness on people affected by trauma. The rules are the following:

    1.UNDERSTANDING YOUR INTERLOCUTOR. According to Carta di Roma, ''interviewing a migrant also means knowing with precision who our interlocutor really is to avoid simplifications and stereotypes. The migrant's country of origin, personal history and religion are key in this process. Also, the interviewer has to know the migrant's judicial status in Italy, whether he or she has applied for asylum or is a trafficking victim.

    2.DEFINING THE PERSON IN A CORRECT WAY. The association stressed how choosing a certain word to describe the interviewed migrant ''can strengthen prejudice''. Talking about an ''illegal migrant'' is degrading, for instance. The association instead called for neutral words like ''migrant'', ''asylum seeker'' and ''refugee''.

    3.GIVING REASSURANCE. The Carta di Roma cited research by UNHCR to say that migrants are often reluctant to talk to journalists because they fear they will have to go back home. In order to reassure them, the UN Refugee Agency suggested to be clear on the journalist's intentions, be sensitive if the migrants asks not to be identified and ask for information on the country of origin.

    4.WHAT THE STORY OF THE INTERVIEWED PERSON REPRESENTS. A journalist's job is to ''put in the right perspective the interview we are carrying out'', understanding the interviewed person, what he or she represents and giving ''the right weight to the words of the migrant or refugee''.

    5.UNDERSTANDING WHEN TO STOP. A journalist should stop the interview and not insist to continue, giving the person who is being interviewed the opportunity of taking a break or ending the interview, stressed Gillian Moreton of the Dart Center. She stressed the importance of recognizing when someone is overcome by emotion or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

    ''It is important to help a person focus on their current security'', also with the help of a friend or family, she noted.

    6.AVOIDING THE 'PORNOGRAPHY' OF PAIN. According to Gavin Rees, director of the Dart Center, there is a risk that a journalist can transform pain into a product rather than a key to understand the situation, while the reader should understand ''what is going on''. The reporter should instead focus on the story, without using high-impact sentences or commonplaces. (ANSA).

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