Some of the world’s leading foreign correspondents and war crimes investigators have contributed to a set of major new training courses for journalists covering possible war crimes in Ukraine under the heading 'For the record: how to document stories from a war zone'.
Ole Solvang, who’s the senior human rights officer for the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, international human rights lawyer Dr Anya Neistat from the Clooney Foundation and BBC news correspondent Quentin Sommerville, are among the experts offering advice throughout the courses which are a collaboration between Thomson Foundation and the Eurovision News Exchange (part of the European Broadcasting Union - EBU).
Thomson Foundation has a high level of expertise in creating bespoke online interactive self-paced training courses and shorter ones on the messaging app Telegram unique to specific organisations such as, in this instance, the EBU.
The training courses, devised by the Eurovision News Exchange in partnership with Thomson Foundation, guide journalists and newsrooms on how to document and archive possible war crimes and flag them to the EBU’s Ukraine War Archive.
“The things that we've learned from other conflicts is that people have started this process ten years after it began. This is the first time that anybody started it contemporaneously” says Liz Corbin, who is the deputy media director and head of news for the EBU. "It’s not just about the news, it’s about the future."
Take notes, record everything, keep all your transcripts
Working with Eurovision News, Thomson Foundation has used its media training expertise to devise three versions of For the record: how to document stories from a war zone for EBU members: one for journalists in the field, another for journalists in the newsroom and a third via the Telegram app.
“It was very important from the outset that we made clear the distinction between journalism and judicial investigation because journalists aren’t war crimes investigators,” says Catherine Mackie who’s the course instructor and training and communications editor for Thomson Foundation. “The experts emphasised the importance of journalists using the right language when reporting about a possible war crime so as not to cause potential harm to any future legal process.”
One key piece of advice comes from seasoned foreign correspondent Quentin Sommerville who has covered wars and conflicts for the BBC in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. “I think one of the things that I've learned over the years as I've got more experience...based on what you can do as a journalist in a situation where something terrible has happened, something might be a war crime, is good housekeeping, is take notes, record everything, keep all your transcripts’, he says.
For the record: how to document stories from a war zone is available for EBU members on the EBU Academy platform. The EBU Academy offers expert market-relevant training for media professionals who are looking to sharpen their skills and confidently lead innovation in their jobs.
As well as creating online courses and courses on the Telegram messaging app for specific organisations, Thomson Foundation also offers a series of free to access courses on our Journalism Now platform.