Media and Journalism Webinars Session 3: Reporting from Conflict and War Zones: Challenges and Opportunities

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Media and Journalism Webinars Session 3: Reporting from Conflict and War Zones: Challenges and Opportunities
July 29, Friday (11:00 AM - 12:30 PM EST)

Media and Journalism Webinars emphasize experiential and hands-on learning through intensive training and interactive discussions with professional journalists for field experience. This program aims to prepare journalism students and young professionals to succeed in their professional careers while fostering experiential learning by translating knowledge and skills into experience.

In this session, participants will be able to learn about the following topic and subjects from professional journalists and media personalities. Your active and meaningful participation with questions and reflections will make the discussion more productive.

Reporting from Conflict and War Zones: Challenges and Opportunities

  1. Challenges in reporting from the frontlines of conflict and war zones
  2. International safeguards for journalists reporting in war zones
  3. Ensuring free flow of information from conflict zones
  4. Revealing truth, building awareness and ensuring accountability

Guest Speakers

Thomas Sideris

Investigative Journalist, Documentary Director, Greece

2-8-thomas-sideris-portrait-2Thomas Sideris is an investigative journalist and an award-winning director based in Greece. He is working at the Greek Broadcasting Corporation. Mr. Sideris was shortlisted for 2 years in a row (2018 and 2019) for the PRIX EUROPA PRIZE, a special EU prize for the best journalist in Europe.

He is a member of the International Press Institute. He has been honored with TORCH AWARD in the USA (human rights advocacy via his films, Pennsylvania, May 2021). Mr. Sideris was honored with Athanasios Botsis Journalism Foundation Award (Athens, January 2018), Albert Schweitzer International Organization Award (Vienna, September 2017). He has been honored with more than 20 awards at film festivals around the world for his films. Mr. Sideris studied Political Sciences and Public Administration at the Law School of the University of Athens and specialized in the mass media. Mr. Sideris has a postgraduate diploma in Human and Social Geography on the subject “Human Geography, Space Development and Design” by the University of the Aegean. He is a PhD candidate in Human and Social Geography by the Harokopio University of Athens. His research field is about the human body in space, the human “landscapes” and the fluid temporary habitable spaces and the fluid identities. Thomas Sideris is also a member of the International Academy of Social Sciences (Florida, USA).

Isobel Koshiw

Correspondent, The Guardian, Ukraine



Isobel Koshiw is the Guardian Correspondent reporting from Ukraine. She has previously worked on investigations into transnational crime and corruption at NGOs and for international publications. Her investigations have appeared in OCCRP, The Verge, The New York Times, The Financial Times and The Times and Kyiv Post.



Summary & Highlights

On July 29, 2022, JWF Media and Webinars 2022 hosted its Session 3 on “Reporting from Conflict and War Zones: Challenges and Opportunities.” The JWF Media and Journalism Webinars 2022 welcomed 33 participants from 18 different countries.

Some of the Highlights of Session 3 are :

  • Challenges in reporting from the frontlines of conflict and war zones
  • International safeguards for journalists reporting in war zones
  • Ensuring free flow of information from conflict zones
  • Revealing truth, building awareness and ensuring accountability

speakers_0006_yazeed-kamaldienYazeed Kamaldien introduced the speakers and gave them the opportunity to further introduce themselves. Isobel talked about her job as a “fixer” for many media sites and certain research projects that she was doing before the war crisis in Ukraine. She shared her experience when the country’s internal conflict started, and because of her extensive work history in and around Ukraine, she was recruited by The Guardian, whom she referred to as luck.

Isobel shared her experiences by stating that many journalists left Kiev during the war, but she remained there and that many media outlets are trying to change these positions of vacancies. Yezeed appreciated Isobel’s courage as the session host and gave the stage to Thomas Sideris. Thomas introduced himself as a current employee of Athens-based public broadcaster E.R.T, where he also makes films and documentaries about human rights and conflict. Yazeed provided both speakers with a summary of previous sessions of the JWF Media and Journalism Webinars, which focused on the practicality and ethics of journalism. He explained that the first session focused on independent and freelance journalists and how they work, while the second session examined the various roles organizations and journalism play in building stable communities.

Why is reporting from war and conflict zones so important and important?

speakers_0003_isobel-koshiwUsing the Ukraine crisis as an example, Isobel Koshiw said that seeing people you can relate to is extremely difficult and emotionally hurtful. That’s why she wasn’t sure if she would continue in this profession if she had no connection to Ukraine as she had worked in Ukraine for many years. Isobel stated that she found the Ukraine issue incredibly upsetting at first, but as a journalist she knew that the media cycle continued and the work had to be done. Isobel also responded by showing her fear of being there, afraid that an artillery gun she could not have imagined a year before had landed next to her.

Isobel also added that it was a professional choice for her to stay in the beginning as she wanted to cover it up when she realized things were going to get worse. “I was defending myself mentally and emotionally from what happened there. I decided to stay because I wanted to make the effort and explain what was going on because it was so confusing.” Yazid also emphasized that as journalists, we are a reflection of human experience and that conflicts can occur anywhere in the world.

How do you focus on human rights in your films and documentaries?

2-8-thomas-sideris-portrait-2Thomas Sideris stressed that his work is for human rights and uses the example of refugees to illustrate this point. In his documentaries, Thomas sees all refugees as the same people, regardless of their country. Yazeed asked another question about how to prepare participants for conflict reporting and approached Isobel to continue her questioning. Isobel admitted she wasn’t ready, but she had some training. While first aid is necessary, being emotionally and psychologically prepared is also very important. She also stressed the importance of knowing a little about a few weapons when one has to defend oneself or possibly others in an emergency.

Responding to Yazeed’s question to prepare for conflict reporting, Thomas explained that making a film on any conflict topic or documentary takes time, as it is a lengthy endeavor that requires getting to know the entire area and its inhabitants and gaining their trust and confidence before collecting stories from a variety of people. Thomas also recounted a time he was in Syria and saw a little boy returning home after seeing a plane. When Thomas asked the boy’s father why the boy did this, the father replied that the boy was afraid of bombs. Thomas claimed that he was able to grasp and advance human rights by observing real victims of a particular issue while producing documentaries.

The participants were included in the discussion after the insightful exchange of the speakers, Abu Naser, one of the participants from Bangladesh, asked a question about the role journalists play in maintaining ethical responsibility in conflict situations or shaping public opinion and consciousness on behalf of humanity.

When Thomas stressed that it is obvious to bear all the suffering of the victims during filming, it can be traumatic, but must be managed as a professional. Rachel from Kenya asked how to maintain her mental health as a journalist in such conflict zones. Isobel recommended the same for managing all the stress and pain. Thereupon, Yazid presented his views on the subject and urged everyone there to seek mental health services, if necessary, after a traumatic event. Most participants were concerned about security in a conflict zone. Both speakers discuss knowingly all the risks and facts. Yazeed appreciated the participation of the various international participants and closed the session.



Thomas Sideris` Analysis on Press Freedom (attachment) 

Thomas Sideris` List of Documentaries: 

News articles by Isobel Koshiw published in the Guardian: 


Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index: