The Challenge of Reporting Human Trafficking

Roy Gutman, correspondent for Newsday, suggests in the article “Journalism, Media, and the Challenge of reporting on Human Rights” that often times war crimes are not reported accurately because “reporters do not know them when they see them” (113).

Bill Kovach supports this opinion and stated in the same article that the media “focus on the drama, not the broader questions” (113).

A striking takeaway from this article is the disconnect between the mainstream media and human rights NGO’s. This article addresses the lack of knowledge on both ends of the issue. Journalists often times do not have a thorough understanding of the extent of human rights violations and therefore cannot even recognize a story even if they see it (114). Conversely, NGO’s oftentimes don’t fully comprehend the extent of the complexity that goes into the stories and messages the media creates (116).

Journalists might not always realize where human rights violations are occurring (116). The Department of Homeland Security states on their website, “Human trafficking is a hidden crime as victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement.” To combat this risk, the site also provides a list of indicators to help people recognize signs of human trafficking. Reading a short list like this is one step journalists should take to further their education about human rights violations.

Once a journalist recognizes and reports an instance of human trafficking, they must right it in such a way that will make it relevant to their audience. Though everyone should take an interest in human rights violations, that is unfortunately not always the case. The “battle for space” in the mainstream media is a challenge journalists face and therefore must be able to present their stories in a way that will get the issue enough coverage to really be heard (116).

While circumstances are not completely ideal, capable journalists can find a way to reach people and evoke action to help combat human rights violations.


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