Reporting Refugees

5 Dec

Reporting Australia Refugees

By Xiyue Cao

Xiyue cao, UC third year Sports Media student.



Literature Review

According to Peter Mares (2002), reporting Australia’s asylum seekers came across basis issues and personal understanding. As media leads to the attitudes of people towards refugees and asylum seekers, it is very important to know the crisis in reporting Australia’s asylum seekers. When talking about refugees, contexts always include terrorist activities, diseases. The stories always invoke both sympathy and fear. Even political leaders will misunderstand terminology about refugee or asylum seekers, let alone some bad titles for them such as “queue jumpers” or “illegal refugees” and so forth.


Department of Parliamentary Services of Australia government provides the definition of “asylum seekers and refugees” according to the UNHCR and Convention. As Australia has a long history of accepting refugees for “resettlement and over 700000 refugees and displaced persons, including thousands during and immediately after World War II, has settled in Australia since 1945”. To solve confusion and misinformation in the public debate is the big deal to help Australia citizen understand more about them and to help them. In terms of the things people worried, such as disease and so on, government published the document to explain the fact. Other parties, such as The Greens, also try to seek approach to asylum seeker and refugees in Australia. This year, ACT Greens are committed to a long-term, practical and humane approach to asylum seekers and refugees that rejects the failed policies of detention of children, indefinite detention and off-shore processing.


Jessie Taylor in her article Behind Australia Door (2009) reveals the harsh living conditions for the asylum seekers can “range from acceptable to appalling”. Their living conditions are generally unsanitary, unsafe, isolated and utterly inappropriate for children.


In terms of the approach of reporting refugees’ stories, the ability of doing research plays an important role. According to the observation by Marcel Machill and Markus Beiler (2009), seach engines, in particular Google, dominate the source-determination process and thereby have a decisive influence on the entire course of journalists’ research. And the internet gains in significance which helps to fulfil more efficiently.

Prior Perspectives

Prior to commencing the project of reporting refugees, I don’t have much contact with asylum seekers and refugees. The only way to know them is through watching TV or listening to the radio programs. Another way is through some charity activities, there are many groups or organizations hold charity activities in Canberra. I talked to one volunteer who used to be a refugee and after he got his citizenship and his work, he now working for the UNHCR in Sydney.


Prior to commencing work on reporting refugee this semester, my attitude to refugee and asylum seekers is quite complex. Firstly, I felt them always illegal to come or “queue jumpers”, which offends the notion of fair play. (Mares, 2002).  “After the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington, Australia domestic context was an atmosphere of panic about the unauthorised arrival of mostly Middle Eastern(Mares, 2002).” So, before I did this project, I was influenced by media or context and worried terrorist activities when I thinking about refugees. What’s more, I related them to some disease, such as hepatitis B and C, because they lived in refugee camps for so long, with very bad medical care. They also might have bad cleaning habits, so I thought even they moved to a safety place, they still won’t change their habits. As a result, my attitudes to refugee and asylum seekers at previous time are both involved in sympathy and fear.


On Assignment For #Reporting Refugees

The first thing I learnt about is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee. According to 1951 Convention, asylum seeker is “someone who is seeking international protection but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined”, so in contrast, a refugee is “someone who owing to well-founded of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…”

Secondly, I learnt that many refugees before they arrived to a safety place, they suffered a lot not only physical, but also mental. The talent I interviewed who is a Brumes, she and her family has to live outside in a farm and sleeping on the grass, their kids has to sleep on the top of them.  Their life at that time is hard. But impressively, after she got scholarship in Canberra, she would like to go back and to help more refugee and asylum seekers.

And there are many refugee students; they living depend on the scholarship which is provided by universities or government. When they are studying, they would like to join UNHCR or Red Cross to help other people, they would like to do some volunteer jobs to help.

Thirdly, during the interview I found that some of the refugees they have already got their certificate in some field, such as pharmacy in their own country. But after they came to Australia, they have to rebuild their certificate which is very harsh for them. They have to spend more years to learn what they’ve might learnt for three or four years and the worse thing is learning in another language.


As a result, after I did couple of interviews with the president of CRS and some refugees, I found they are very good. In my point of view, they should very proud of themselves. Pyu Pyu Mon, the Burmese refugee said “we don’t say thank you from our mouth, we say thank you from our heart”. She now learning health care, she wants to go back home to help others. Normally, we will think that if someone just escaped from a terrible place or war zone, they might never want to go back. But she also wants her children to go back to have a look there are still many people living in a very harsh situation. Like Jessie Taylor in her article Behind Australia Door (2009) revealed, except the living condition, they also under the bad situation from detainees. “Detainees are often denied schooling, appropriate food, medical care and clean water. Detainees suffer malnutrition, depression, anxiety, skin diseases, vomiting and diarrhea, and have been subject to violent beatings”.


Through the research, I found The Greens has a new approach to asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. They have long-term policies, which include community based approach, asylum seeker support fund. They also have practical policies, which aim to play a leading role in our region, to increase Australia’s intake of refugees. They also have humane policies, which includes there will be no children in detention and judicial review.


Policies about refugees always the most important topic in Australia and Australia has a long history of accepting refugees for resettlement and over 700000 refugees and displaced persons have settled in Australia since 1945. I also know actually there is no orderly queue for asylum seekers to join. After I interviewed the refugee, I found that not all refugees relating to terrorist activities.


Lessons From The Field

Reporting refugees is not a simply issue like our daily bulletin news. First of all, refugees are very care about their privacy, because they need to protect their families. Some of their family members still living in the border line or refugee camps, so reporting their stories should be very careful. And some refugees are required not allow to do video stories.


What’s more, we need to be very patient to communicate with refugees. Refugees always think more because they need to make sure their family members are under safety situation. So when they reply email or arrange interview times, they always take long time.


We also need a good communication skill when we are trying to contact organization and groups. Because many organizations are doing volunteer jobs, the staffs are busying doing their own job. Moreover, they will freak out if we just said we are going to publish some stories. They haven’t got a chance or experience to be interviewed, so the first responds they would like to choose is just escape. So, like what happened this semester. We couldn’t push them to accept interviews; what’s more, we need to let them understand our project and the meaning of reporting refugee stories. Maybe we could find other way to let them know and to let them accept the ideas.


As a result, if I faced the same thing, I will try to find other group who would like to be interview and talked about their organizations. If I really want to interview this group such as MARSS, I will try some other ways, such as talked to someone they know, and let them to talk to MARSS.


This semester, I came across a lot of difficulties especially on contact talents. However, we finally finished the story. The lesson I learnt is never give up, and tried to find more sources in a time in and do a good research which I think is the most important thing. We have topic and news angle at the beginning, but we have to change them according to our interview situation. I will never just waiting email responds all the time; I will do some things positively.



Reporting refugee is not just a project to practice journalism students’ skill, but to understand how to communicate and to care. Because of the hard interview difficulties, we’ve learned how to get in touch with refugees and also changed our attitude and understanding to them. We practiced research skills because of the difficulties we met for contact interviewees. We’ve learnt to hold on and be patience to interview talents and the organizations. Doing this project in field, we are no longer journalism students; we are the real journalists who reporting issues and current affairs.



Beiler. M & Machill. M (2009) The important of the internet for journalistic research Journalism Studies, Vol. 10, No.2, pp.178-203


Mares. P. (2002) Reporting Australia’s Asylum Seeker “Crisis”, Media Asia, Vol. 29, No. 2 Retrieved from


Meijer. I. (2001) The public quality of popular journalism: developing a normative framework, Journalism Studies, Vol.2, No.2, pp.189-205


Phillips. J. (2011) Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts?

Retrieved from


Taylor. J (2009) Behind Australian Door Report

Retrieved from 


The Greens, (2011) A new approach to asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. Retrieved from


Summary my interest of area—-Risks to Journalists

8 Oct

My product is for three kinds of people, journalists, journalism students and audiences who curios journalists.  In my area of interest, I deliver the latest situation for journalists who are at risks and what the risks are as well as how to keep themselves safe. What’s more, I also alert the journalism area such as media outline to concentrate on the risks to journalists. So, I think it has potential market because of the huge influence of mass media.

What I expect to the money is being collected in the journals or attract main stream media to create my own column to discuss the risks to journalism and to common the latest situation for journalists, such as war correspondents, foreign correspondents, etc. I am not expecting to get the money through advertisement, because there is no particular attraction for ads.

I think the only competition to my interest of area will be the scholars, they will have large among of research to deliver their point of view. But I am confident to my topic, because as an online blog, I provide links to the sources and integrate the information. It is more convenient for the audiences to open the link and get the information as soon as possible.  And my blogs and topic will be easy researched online. So, it is also my competitive advantage.

To sum up, I am very confident with my area of interest and it has a potential market.

The timeline of “Journalists kidnapped in Libya”

27 Sep

Four Italian journalists kidnapped in Libya on Wednesday morning, 24th August 2011. They were abducted by gunmen when they were traveled toward Tripoli. News about the kidnap filled the websites on both 24th Aug and 25th Aug.


 Photo: EPA

(L-R) Elisabetta Rosaspina, Giuseppe Sarcina,  audio Monici and Domenico Quirico, the Italian journalists who were kidnapped in Libya.

24th Aug

REUTERS            EDT 6.37pm  ‘Four Italian journalists kidnapped in Libya’

Yahoo News                                  ‘Four Italian journalists kidnapped in Libya’

CNNWORLD                                  ‘Four Italian journalists kidnapped in Libya, official in Rome confirms’

The Blaze                   3.51pm     Report: Gadhafi Loyalists Kidnap Four Italian Journalists, Kill Driver

The Telegraph   BST 11:31PM   ‘Libya: four Italian journalists kidnapped’

Voice of America                         ‘4 Italian Journalists Kidnapped in Libya’           21:50               Four Italian journalists kidnapped in Libya-Italy

25th Aug

Huff Post Media     ET 09:48 am  ‘Italian Journalists Kidnapped In Libya Freed’

The Guardian                                     ‘Italian journalists kidnapped in Libya’

DOWN.COM                                         ‘Four Italian journalists kidnapped in Libya freed’

BBC News                 GMT 12:36     ‘Libya conflict: Kidnapped Italian journalists freed’

Journalists being kidnapped is always a popular topic especially for those working on the war zones. When people chasing the news of conflicts, they also care about the situation of war correspondents.  Journalists has the responsibility to broadcast the news and their attitude to the news should always neutral. In terms of journalists working in that situation, they should not in risks, especially for the kidnapps that happened on purpose.

Except for the event is under consideration, the influence of the explosion is also important. Because of the pressure by mass media, audiences all over the world would know the truth and ask to release the journalists. It also can urge kidnapp not to hurt journalists.

Additionally, reporters would interview many related politicians or officials, audiences would know what happened to them and also know the attitudes of the officials not just relating to the matter itself, but also to the conflicts between countries.

The participants of the risks to journalists

20 Sep

After researching for five weeks, I found some participants and audiences who are engaging my area of interest. Some of them are writing academic research about Journalists at risks in order to analysis what threaten the lives or health of the journalists. Other comment on the newspapers or magazines to the latest news about the situation of journalists who reporting in war zones, politics or foreign corresponds. There are also some guidelines to journalists which are publishing online.

As I mentioned in previous blogs, Journalists at risk: telling the truth can get them killed – The United States of Violence: A Special Section – Cover Story ” which is written by Judith Braffman-Miller. And Judith Braffman-Miller is a freelancer who specializes in government and science. He writes for newspaper, magazines and online news magazines. The article is an academic research which is published on Australian Edition. The article has three parts which are:  particular examples of attacks on the media abound, attacks abroad and protecting journalists.

“Risks to journalists grow beyond war zones”   is published on The Kansas City and written by Mary Sanchez. Mary is a dogged reporter and compelling writer who examines the cultural changes sweeping America. The article is a commentary about a trend that war is no longer the major risk to journalist . Such as kidnap backlash, violent street protests and suicide attacks.

As the Committee Protect Journalism (CPJ) is the most authority committee, it has a web page covering the guide for reporting in hazardous situations. It’s a whole package of guides to help journalists keep safety. It includes Covering Conflict, Reporting in Hostile Terrain and some suggested articles as well as support resources.

To sum up, the stake holders in journalism is on their way to protect journalists.

The most common form of content in my interest of area

12 Sep

There are four forms of content which are curatorial, evergreen, feature/news, viral, in this blog, I will analysis the most common form of the content in my interest of are which is the risks to journalists. During the reading and researching, I found the most common form of content in my interest of area is news and feature.

Feature is quite common which is often looking back or looking forward,

Risks to journalists grow beyond war zones” is published on Kansas City.  In this article, Mary Sanchez illustrates that not only battle conflicts threatened journalists, other dangers are growing. She says:

Change the city to any number of places around the world, and the bold-sounding statement could be issued any day of the week. In 2010, 57 journalists died in the line of duty, according to Reporters Without Borders. Of that total, 11 deaths occurred in Pakistan, the most for any country.

In contrast to previous years, violence against journalists covering actual wars is declining. The war correspondent has been glorified, but it seems the dangers of being a reporter are growing outside of battlefield conflicts.

In her article, she also indicates other risks, for example, kidnap and backlash.

Other articles which relating to the health issues to journalists is feature stories, such as the articles published  on CNTV.

News is another form of content which is popular use in the risks to journalists, I think is because the character of journalism.So, whenever google such area of interest, news always the most form.

Above are the results when I google “risks to journalists” and ” journalists at risks”.

Normally, those news story will tell us what happened to the journalists and the latest news about them, especially those who are working in the war zone.

Those I would follow online

11 Sep

The fastest way to getting more information is obviously online resources. However, the results on the google page or other websites will freak you out after you typing the key words. So, there are some of the steps needs to be done which can save your time and gain more information of your expection,  the steps are build online communication platform.

With the advent and delvelopment of facebook, Twitter, RRS and any other online communication platforms, we find it’s much easier to get the information we need. In my area of interest, I would like to introduce some of the links I follow online briefly.          


As I introduced in previously blogs, whenever journalists are attacked, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) will help. And more and more journalists are realised it, so the Twitter of CPJ has attracted large amount of journalists all over the world. After RT and #, CPJ twitter page has fully filled by information about journalists, risks and protections and thinking sharing. With the updating of news, the information all relating to the latest news.


Robert Mahoney is a journalists and also the press freedom defender. The reason to follow him is because as a journalist, his twitter has plenty of links and information. Following his twitter, it is easier to find information in my area of interest.

critical media professional says: journalists at risks–“telling the truth can get them killed”

9 Sep

Judith Braffman-Miller is a freelancer who specializes in government and science. He writes for newspaper, magazined and online news magazines.  He said that:

“I am an astronomer who has also written numerous freelance science articles for the general public. I also like to write on social and political issues, and have done quite a bit of investigative reporting. My articles have been published in a variety of magazines and newspapers since 1980.”

In 1994, he published an article named “Journalists at risk: telling the truth can get them killed- The United States of Violence: A special Section-Cover Story“. On March 11, 1992,  Manuel de Dios Unaue, the former editor of  El Diario/La Prensa was shot in the head. He is also the founder of the weekly magazine Crime. The reason is he had dared to write the artlce about possible drug cartel links between the U.S. and Colombia.  Then a Colombian drug lord Jose Santa-cruz Londono offered a 20.000 contract to kill this journalist.

In his article, Judith Braffman-Miller also sited Mark Hertsgaard, the author of On Bened Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency, he wrote:

“Telling the truth can get you killed. Despite this unpleasant occupational hazard, intrepid journalists the world over persevere. Journalists are societies’ eyes and ears; without them, we are left deaf and dumb to what is going on around us. They deserve our respect and gratitude..they also need our protection and solidarity.”

Despite the examples about the attacks on the media abound, Judith Braffman-Miller also mentioned the attacks abroad, which are relating to the foreign correspondents.

To sum up, the purpose of the article is trying to find out the solutions to the death threat to the journalists. But in his article, he is only ableto lists the examples about how and why those journalists were killed. Which is the same to other kinds of risks to journalists that the problem is, it is hard to find the solutions even we can’t name all the death threatens let alone find solutions.

Media outlets of the risks of being a journalist

30 Aug

Journalists are at risks. And that’s the reason about why the good news are come from the journalists. This area will be mentioned once journalists’ life are being threatened. Here are some media outlets publishing this topic, some of them are aiming to reporting the journalists are at risks, while others for scholars to share opinion.

journalists@risk™ is an online community of media professionals, the website has articles about the knowledge-Base, Safety Tips and other online resources, journalists in various areas such as in war zones share their experiences on the website. However, the articles look like academic writing style. On the website, there are also recommendation lists of books about war reporting.

China Network Television (CNTV) has a special topic website about concerning the health issues of journalists. It includes only six articles which the latest article was published on 2004.

Pacific Journalism Review is a peer-reviewed journal which relating current media issues and communication in the South Pacific, Asia-Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. Now, it is published by the Pacific media Centre, AUT University, and has links with the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism and the Univerisity of the South pacific. On the website, it provides the abstracts and the information about the journals about the risks to journalists who is reporting wars.

The theme of Committee Protect journalists is to defending journalists worldwide. The website including the articles and news about the risks to journalists who are reporting at war zone. The most attractive thing is on the left of the web page which has the links to the statistics of the journalists who were killed in 2011, imprisoned, missing. There is also a topic called “Alert” which includes the news articles about journalists at risks.


The risks to journalists

30 Aug

It is seemed that journalists always under the glory halo of reporting news for folks, however, the risks of being a journalist are easily ignored. Since the obituary spread online of Xing Li, who is the correspondent of China Daily, I am interested in the area of the risks to journalists.

Health is the most important factor needs to be concerned for a journalist. According to the research in 2001 by a local newspaper, the statistic shows that, nearly 72.1% of young journalists feel under huge pressure and 30% of journalists who seriously feel exhausted among the 84.2% journalists who usually feel tired. Meanwhile, the percentage of journalists who have bad quality of sleeping accounts for 62% and nearly half of the total journalists don’t have much appetite when eating. Those who have headache and body aches represent for 68% and 49.2%, respectively. Nearly 18% of the journalists have diarrhea and constipation problems. The research shows that the average age of journalists who death is 45.7, including 72.7% cause of cancer.

Being a journalist, the risks also include being shot dead or being threatened to be killed, especially for the war correspondence. Journalists always thought they are not close to the truth, so obviously they were facing risks anytime.

TYLER HICKS The New York Times photographer near the  front line during a pause in the fighting on March 11 in Ras Lanuf, Libya. Four days later,  he and three other Times journalists were taken captive by government soldiers.

John Moore/Getty Images

What’s more, the kidnappings and murders is threatening the lives of journalists who working in the war areas. Such as Cameraman Stephane Taponier and reporter Herve Ghesquiere, who are the two French journalists in Afghanistan.

Several hundred people gathered in front of Paris city hall on Wednesday to mark the one-year anniversary of the kidnappping of two French journalists in Afghanistan.

Refugee Policy of Australia

21 Aug

Refugees are people who have been forced to leave their countries because they have been persecuted. Australia, along with other resettlement countries, introduced a system of refugee selection in 1979. This was the beginning of the ‘off shore” refugee policy(A brife history of refugee policy in Australia). Australia is the only country in the world which links its onshore and offshore programs in this way.

In 2011, Australia’s refugee polic has been warned by the International human rights organisation. The situation is the Australian Government must urgently adopt a new, more strategic approach to its refugee policy or risk increasingly dire human consequences.

There are several issues happened recently result in the concern which are: the recent agreement signed by Australia to return failed asylum seekers to Afghanistan; the changes the government is making to the processing of asylum seekers who arrive by boat following last November’s High Court judgment; and the dire state of Australia’s immigration detention system.

Last year, the High Court of Australia  unanimously decided that two Sri Lanka asylum seekers who had arrived on Christmas Island claiming asylum had been denied procedural fairness after being processed as offshore arrivals.

According to Andrew Herd, who is a PhD scholar at the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University, he indicates the future of Australia’s refugee policy. He says, the options for the Australian government appear to be to either accept its responsibilities to asylum seekers as oulined in the 1951 Convention or to continue with the policy of offshore processing and find another country to host a processing centre.