What creative tactics have been used to engage the media? Share examples!

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What creative tactics have been used to engage the media? Share examples!

Get ready to share your stories in this discussion! Consider these questions when sharing your comments in this discussion topic:

  • How have campaigns been able to influence the media? What tactics have been used?
  • How do we use the media to challenge stories of oppression and exploitation?
  • How do we craft stories that attract media attention and communicate to our audiences?

Share your experiences, thoughts, ideas and questions by adding a comment below or replying to existing comments!

For help on how to participate in this conversation, please visit these online instructions.


Art and film as hooks

I have a keen interest in the role of arts and film to be used as tools for social change and impact campaigns and the way in which people use these projects to gain huge media attention for political issues and campaigns.

Big hART who I work with regularly use collaboratively created high profile touing theatre works, apps and docos to build an audience, draw attention to an issue and drive policy change. A number of these projects have been evaluated and detailed at Big hART's site bighart.org

One project that I was closely involved with was Ngapartji Ngapartji. Conceived in 2004 based on research undertaken since 1999 Ngapartji Ngapartji was based on Arrernte country in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) from early 2005 – mid 2010. Ngapartji Ngapartji had many layers involving language learning, teaching and maintenance, community development, crime prevention, cross cultural collaboration and creating new literacy training models as well as film, art, policy and theatre making. The National Indigenous Languages Policy was launched in 2009 at Garma Festival. The Nothing Rhymes with Ngapartji doco can be streamed here.

Invisible War is a fantastic example of a film driving change at a grass roots level, within an institution (the military) and at a policy level. They ran an incredibly powerful media campaign #notinvisble alongside the film incuding screenings on miltary bases and college campuses, engaging a Washington DC PR firm etc and I think most importantly, amplifying the campaign of Service Women's Action Network and Iraq Veterans Against the War. I've written more on this campaign here. They used the profile of the film to get high profile media such as New York Times etc to cover the issue of sexual assault in the military and were very succesful in raising the profile and shifting the needle on the issue.

Some recent examples of great media gained by other films using this tactics include Bully, End of the Line, Age of Stupid, Gasland, Mary Meets Mohammad, God Loves Uranda, The House I Live In and many more. It's a very exciting new way of using film for social change broadly known as "impact space"

I've written more about this impact work at my blog and there is a podcast of a recent talk I gave in Melbourne online here.


Why is art an effective tool for creating change

Hi Alex - 

I would love to hear your top 3 reasons why you believe art is an effective tool for creating change and influencing public opinion. 

I am very intersested in how and why art had impact.

Heather Box



Good question and the answers are layered and interconnected!

Essentially I think we are the stuff of story and that as Edward Said says "Nations are Narrations" - the stories that we tell, those that we include or exclude; they define us and our communities and societies and policies.

I believe change relies on awareness, legislative change and for new ideas to become embedded in culture and behaviour. It is this third part - the embedding within culture - where I think art and the art of storytelling plays a critical role.

Art has a way of getting in to our heart, under our skin, getting at the truest meanings of the stuff of life - and it's in this hard to define, fluid space, that I think new ideas are absorbed and new possibilities seem more real - there is a freedom in the ephemeral that the hard nosed intellectual and strategic can not always capture.

So I see it as a combination - of startegy, planning, formal organising, and poetic, creative and ephemeral art and poetry and story - that has the greatest capacity to make and influence narrations and thus nations.



Using the arts and culture of resistance to engage media

Well said. Art is also a great way to broaden your audience and your supporters. I think it makes the message and the call-to-action more accessible for people...and the media.

We hosted a conversation last year on the strategic use of art and cultural resistance (there is a great summary of the discussion on the conversation page - check it out!). From that conversation, a number of tactics were shared that relate well to this thread on the power of art and culture and to how it can help attract the media:

I'd love to hear more examples of how art and cultural resistance is being used to engage the media! Share your examples by replying to these comments.

- Kristin Antin, New Tactics Online Community Builder

Art & Campaigning

Wow, those are powerful examples!

Folks may also be interested in these comments from four artists at a forum on Art and Campaigning, held in Australia last year: 

  • Build strong culture 
  • Representation can be powerful; representation should be ethical
  • Consider your audience
  • Art can attract attention and controversy
  • Always remember the visuals
  • Value the labour of artists

Full article here

Adjacent Possible

Hi Alex Kelly - 

Thank you for answering my question. A friend of mine, Kristin Rothballer, just introduced me to the concept of the adjacent possible. She didn't even have to finish the words and it had already clicked something inside of me. That is what I see the role of art is in organzing and social change - to help us step into and sense the adjacent possible. I am so on board :)

I really want to continure to find words, concepts to describe this process of feeling our way into a new reality. Thank you for this sentence: "...a place where new ideas are absorbed and new possibilities seem more real."  



adjacent possible

Ooooh I like this! Adjacent possible - will have to look it up. Certainly - capturing something beyond the status quo - new possiblities, frames, ways of seeing and being.... Great!

adjascent possible

Ah yes, 'adjascent possible' is a concept from complexity theory. It is part of grounding ourselves in knowing that we need to accept exactly the way things are and then find the resourceful steps that are available (the adjascent possible). No matter how bad we think things are there is always an adjascent possible to push for and the truth is we are much more powerful when we are grounded in this way and accessing the opportunities that actually present. Its pragmatic yes, but theres a deeper opportunity in complexity theory and it is the observation that when systems are 'far from equilibrium" (as our planet and societies are at present) a field of opportunity opens in which very small exertions can have massively amplified outcomes. Theres not been a lot of work done on applying complexity theory to social change work but a lot of us do it intuitively anyway. After all social movements are part of the immune system of the society/planet.

Complexity theory explains how 'abrupt shifts' occur suddenly in physical, biological and ecological systems, we are only just beginning to see and apply these  to social systems which actually operate according to quite similar rpinciples.

Perhaps 'complexity' can be a future topic.





Hi Aidan, 

I would love to discuss compexity more with you. Do you have sites and links that can explain this?

Do you have an example in nature of when "a field of opportunity opens in which very small exertions can have massively amplified outcome?"

I love how you say social movements are part of the "immune system"


New Tactics Case Study: Engaging the Media

This New Tactics case study is written by Korean activist Jee Heyeon Kim, Director of Publicity & International Solidarity for Korean Women Workers Associations United (KWWAU).  Kim describes how KWWAU successfully engaged with the Korean public and media to raise the minimum wage and change perceptions about the minimum wage in Korea. Before 2001, irregular Korean women workers experienced wage discrimination and their plight went unnoticed.  However, through a succesful grassroots advocacy camapaign, including demonstrations, a conference and media engagement, caused the first significant raise in the minimum wage since it was created. Following this small success, KWWAU continued its campaign to change public perception and the socio-economic situation of irregual Korean women workers. Key elements of the organizations success included

  • developing a meaningful slogan (in this case, Can you live on 420,000 KRW a month?),
  • involving the public in a online petition for change,
  • conducting public legal cases against business that violated the minimum wage law, and
  • staging performances at their demonstrations that interested the media. 

These performances utilized narratives from Korean workers, emphasizing their impovershiment and struggle and drawing attention to the injustice of the minimum wage laws. Kim cites the average annual increase of the minimum wage by 10% as evidence of KWWAU's success.  For more information about KWWAU's media strategies, read the full case study.  

- Brittany Landorf, New Tactics Intern

Anniversary Events, Media Coverage Guaranteed

Lessons learnt from Halabja, Kurdistan Region, Iraq.

I am from the small town of Halabja. It is where Kurdish people lost five thousand people in just seconds during a chemical attack by the Saddam regime back on March 16th, 1988. After three years, and after the first Gulf war, the northern part of Iraq, now called Kurdistan Region, has been established. Since then, every year, local and foreign polititicians, officials and diplomats participate in the anniversary on the same date. As such, media coverage, be it local or international, is guaranteed.

The town, known as the Kurdish identity in Kurdistan, in reference to introducing the Kurdish cause to the world, has been marginialized by the goverment for the last 25 years_this time on kurdish hands. I am going to share two tactics in two seperate events on the same date where local people and activists used the power of media and the precence of foreign diplomats in favor of more basic services and less absuses.

On March 16th, 2006, thousands of local people participated in a demonstration against Kurdistan's policy as it comes to Halabja. The goal of the demonstartion was to prevent the anniversaey from happening_preventing the officials from partcipating in the event in the town. Though the demonstation was a peaceful one, unfortunately the security forces responded in a violent way, kiiling a 17-year old boy and injuring tens of demonstator. However,the demonstartion ws able to reach its goals: The anniversary did not happen, the whole nation surprised when noticing the lack of basic services in the town, and yes the governemnt tried to serve the town afterwards by building new rodas and governemntal buildings.

Back to March 16th, this time seven years after that event, in 2013. The event this time brought the attention of unprecented media coverage, both local and international, as this time the kurdistan Prime Minister, Kurdistan ministers, and foreign diplomats from different countries round the world participated in the event. My feelow colleagues and I had prepared ourselves to use that opportunity to convey our message, and the message: The administration, which promised to announce the town a provine, i.e., even more services and responsible for its own policy, back in 1999, has to implent it on the ground. The activists wrote messages on pieces of paper in four languages: Kurdish, English, Arabic, and Persian, to get attention of local and international media stations, so do diplomats. The prime minister went to read his speech about the anniversary, during which he made no reference to announcing Halabja a province, herey the activists who have already sneaked into the main event, raised their voice and their banners high enough to attract the prime minister's aattention. Being embarassed before the diplomats, the prime minister was left with going back to the podium, and announce the decision that Halabja will be announced as such the day after. The day after that, the govenment, after meeting with the activists, announced what the locals wanted to achieve: The Province of Halabja.

Lessons Learned:

  1.  The anniversaries, and main events are a good setting for media coverage. neither the media (even sometimes eager to cover it ) nor the officials could ignore the voices.
  2. It is wise to go global, and never satisfy yourself with local attention. Do alwaysremeber that the governments would like to keep their image outside their boders. That is why we presented our messages in different languages. It was a big embarassment for our governemnt to have not served the chemical victims from our town, even after 25 years.
Lessons learned from a successful media campaign

Excellent tips, Osamah! Thanks for sharing these lessons learned. Achieving global media coverage is really difficult for human rights groups so sharing this tip of producing your message in multiple languages is so practical. Thank you!

I wanted to share a few more tips (actually a lot of tips) that were shared from our online community member Philippe Duhammel. Philippe was involved in a successful campaign to free a Canadian man from unlawful detention, and he learned a lot of practical lessons along the way.

Tips shared in his article on effectively engaging the media include: decide what you want; never lie or exaggerate; restricting access can build credibility; be a resource; put yourself in their shoes; act proactively; and many more. Read the article here.

Question for all participants: What other lessons have been learned? What advice do you wish someone had told you years ago, on effectively engaging the media? Share your tips, lessons and advice here by replying to the comments in this discussion thread!

- Kristin Antin, New Tactics Online Community Builder

What I wished I had learned earlier


Osamah - I really appreciate you noting that the anniversary was a successful hook. The use of a relevant hook can make a HUGE difference. 

But when there is no clear and attractive hook, here is what I have learned to do which has been successful. And I wished I would have learned earlier in my worklife that sometimes the event/campaign that I am working on just isn't really that "newsworthy" and I should invest my time in creating media rather than pitching endlessly. When I worked at 350.org I saw them do an amazing job at this. On 10/10/2010 they were having a global day of action. They had their press team set up to target specific media with the intention for major national and international coverage, but they also had staff and volunteers prepped and ready to upload blogs and create media as soon as the day started. All through out the day new people were blogging on the 350.org site and other supportive alternative media and they were all being pumped out over 350.org's social media. The media we created added to the momentuem of the day and even helped us to make the day itself more newsworthy. This was different than other campaigns I worked on where we spent all day pitching and ended the day unsatisfied with the media coverage. 

Social Media

I really like Osamah's example as well as Heather's example from 360.org. Certainly social media allows us to reach a wide audience without depending on the media. In the United States, news organizations are struggling and one result is that local media are becoming hyper-local. For example, in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, where my organization is based, we used to have two local newspapers that actually did a fair amount of national and international reporting. They had a Washington, D.C. bureau and would send reporters to other cities to cover national news or on international trips to report on things usually with a hook to Minnesota. Unfortnately, as the news industry contracts, there's less of that. What that means for an organization like mine is that it's much more difficult to get coverage of our international or national work by our regional media outlets, and of course, the large news organizations are getting so many pitches, it's hard to rise above.

A couple lessons for us, and others have said the same thing in this thread, but it's so important to develop a relationship with reporters. We need to know what their focus is, we need to share relevant information to their coverage and we can't throw out any kind of pitch. Usually, we're trying to position some of our staff as experts they can come to on issues related to our work, rather than trying to get them to cover a program.

Social media is so important to being able to get your stories out to the public without having to go through the media. Blogs are very helpful and a good way to get picked up by reporters. By tracking what reporters might link to in their tweets or blogs, we can see what's of interest and tailor our content. It's still a work in progress but I think it's actually pretty exciting to move out of the traditional media relations and focus on getting the content/messages you've determined are important to your work and to social change, and using all sorts of online tools to get the information out without relying on reporters. And when it's done well, the content you share can attract reporters. Some reporters have significant twitter followers, so even if they don't include your quote in a news story, if they send a link to your blog or website or retweet, you are reaching a much larger audience.

Engaging reporters and bloggers

Each of you have offered great examples, emphasizing the importance of relationships with reporters, utilizing social media to further the reach of your news, and creating news when there is no existing news to piggyback on. I want to add that bloggers are no different from reporters in that a relationship is key to them paying attention to your email pitch. I have found that with reporters it is important to be a resource not just for the agenda you have and want them to get covered, but also being a resource for stories that they are working on that you may not have any interest in. Do you know someone that can be a good resource for their story on songbird-friendly coffee?! If you help make their job easier, they might just give you a little extra love with your next priority story. Sometimes Twitter is a great way to figure out what story they are working on. Follow the reporters you want to have cover your future stories on Twitter, then monitor their tweets to see what they are interested in and working on.

Follow up to Engaging Reporters and Bloggers

Thanks Liz for your comments. We try to educate our staff here that even if we can't be a direct source, providing them with contacts to other experts or organizations is worth our time and effort. As you said, it leaves them with a good feeling that you're helpful, knowledgable and responsive. We can never under estimate building those long term relationships.

I also wanted to offer a few ideas of resources available online: WeFollow.com tracks who the most followed Twitter users are and lets you cut it by category and key word.

MuckRack.com is a Twitter directory of journalists broken down by industry. Often journalists are very influential in a given niche but more importantly they follow the major influencers in their niche. You can see who they retweet an dinteract with, then follow those people. They offer a basic level of service for free (like most of our organizations, we don't have a budget for the more sophisticated tracking). 


Heather, I second your offering of MuckRack.com as a great directory for finding Twitter names for journos. Many reporters also list their Twitter addresses at the end of their stories when you look them up online (if you are just handpicking people).


Making media bias the story: 1

What can be done in a context of media suppression or heavy bias?

A creative example comes from the Turkish resistance movement which has adopted the symbol of a penguin. When some of the early protests were taking place and being attacked by police in Gezi Park and Taksim Square, CNN Turkey screened a
 documentary on penguins when CNN in other countries showed the Turkish 
protests. The failure of the media has been used to galvanise a 
movement which communicates in other ways (social media, alternative media, on the streets etc).

The penguin has become a powerful and playful meme turning up in many different ways: street art, costumes, placards, etc. Center for Story-based Strategy defines a meme as ‘a capsule for a story to spread’, and the story of media suppression has now spread in Turkey and around the world.

Dispatches from Turkey: What are the penguins about?

In Turkey, Penguins Become Symbol Of How Media Missed The Story

Satirical (& cute) symbol mobilizes people & engages media

I love this example, Holly! We actually just published this example as a tactic on our website - check it out! There's a great picture.

What I love about this example is the creativity (obviously) and the way the penguin symbol was used to mobilize more people, which then led to more media coverage...a great snowball effect. Thanks for sharing, Holly! It would be great to learn of other ways organizations and campaigns have used symbols and/or satire to engage the media and mobile supporters.

- Kristin Antin, New Tactics Online Community Builder

Making media bias the story: 2

In Australia we've just gone through a national election where newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch blatantly campaigned for the conservative Liberal Party. Progressive organisation Get Up! ran a counter-campaign saying 'Thanks Rupert Murdoch, but we can choose our own Prime Minister'.

The campaign included a crowd-funded TV advertisement. Several television networks refused to run the ad, which amplified the story. Get Up explained the refusal to run the ad as an example of Murdoch's undemocratic influence in Australia. The media coverage of the ad not being run generated far more publicity and exposure than the actual TV ads could have achieved: Anti-Murdoch ad banned from television. It also meant people saw the ad on the news or online, without the cost of paid advertising. 

Get Up haven't commented about whether the ad ban was an anticipated and planned for part of their campaign (my guess is that it was). It's an example of Brian Martin's Backfire model:

"The backfire model is about tactics to oppose injustice. An attack can be said to backfire when it creates more support for or attention to whatever is attacked. Any injustice or norm violation can backfire on the perpetrator.

Backfire can be apparent in adverse public opinion or greater activity by opponents. Even when a perpetrator seems to get away with an injustice, it can be counterproductive in the long term."

"The keys to backfire:

• Reveal: expose the injustice, challenge cover-up
• Redeem: validate the target, challenge devaluation
• Reframe: emphasise the injustice, counter reinterpretation • Redirect: mobilise support, be wary of official channels
• Resist: stand up to intimidation and bribery"

Just as power-holders or oppressors can manipulate the media to suppress resistance, the media can be a very useful tool in backfire, to gain attention for injustice. More information about Backfire here.  

How have you dealt with media bias? When have you been able to make attacks (including through the media) backfire?

Media Requests to Interview Victims of Human Rights Abuses

I'm throwing out a question to all of you and wondering if you've had experience with this. Frequently, journalists contacting the Center for Victims of Toture want to interview a survivor who has received care at CVT. Because of the work we do (healing wth a strong emphasis on providing mental health to survivors of torture and war), we have an ethical obligation to maintain confidentiality as well as legal obligations under Federal and state health privacy laws. We do have a policy to handle this (which includes informed consent process and a release form). But in reality, it's often very hard for us to accomodate these media requests. First, our process means it can take up to 3 weeks to contact a survivor and go through the informed consent process so we can't meet quick deadlines. But culturally, it's very hard for the organization to think about responding quickly. Although our policy says our goal is to provide as much inforamtion to the survivor as possible so they can make an informed decision, we're still acting very much like a gatekeeper in terms of who is contacted. I think it's all intended to protect people who have had all trust and privacy torn apart, but sometimes that means we're not able to work with journalists and of course that means we're not getting our story out.

Do any other organizations have similar issues?  Has anyone been able to set up a support group that allows victims of human rights abuses to advise on how to manage these kinds of media requests and perhaps provide self-support? I think some survivors that want to share their story because they have been a part of movements to promote social change and would like to still contribute. But we need to balance our obligations to support their healing with our organizational needs to work with the media to explain what we do.

re: Media Requests to Interview Victims of Human Rights Abuses

Would it be possible to set up a "speaker's bureau" or "ambassadors program" or something along those lines which would provide you an opportunity to cultivate a pool of people who have benefit from your work, gain informed consent upfront, offer media training and support -- so that you have spokespeople at the ready when media comes calling? 


Hi Holly M. I like this idea

Hi Holly M. I like this idea of setting up a group of people who could advise and act as both a support group to each other and who we could provide training to. I'm going to explore that internally. I think groups can be very powerful and it might be a way to give survivors support from the organization (us) and fellow survivors).

re: Media Requests to Interview Victims of Human Rights Abuses

I really like the idea of setting up a speaker's bureau and I think it is really important to invest the tme in space so the speakers can really explore their story so they can present it in the way that feels absolutely true to them. I have a lot of experience doing deep storytelling with victims of abuse and often times the story that they come to in the process is not the "I SURVIVED!" narrative widely circulated in the media, but rather a complicated narrative around the truth - sometimes those can be narratives that isn't sound bite ready for the media. Sometimes, it can be a story of loving and hating their abusers, being a victim and a perpetrator, or any of the thousands of other possibilities. I think having the space to explore and own our stories is an critically important step we each must take before media training. The way that we do it at the Million Person Project is wither through an all day workshop or through a 10-20 hour one-on-one story coaching program. It is a big time investment but I believe it makes all the difference in the world if we give ourselves the time to go through the process of exploring our story before we get up on stage or in front of the camera and putting our "narrative" on record.   

Media Ethics & Personal Stories

Thanks Holly Z for raising this issue. It prompted a side conversation on Facebook and I'll repost some of what came out of it. These examples are from Australia.

Youth advocate James McDougall wrote about young people telling their stories in the media: 

"Clear protocols are helpful but it is always tricky. Most young people don't want to share with media during the experience - which is sensible. Only occasionally will a young person want to share afterwards - when they are ready. Most want to move on or 'forget'. When a young person wants to speak, preparation and ongoing support are crucial. Knowing and trusting the media outlet helps. Changing identifying features (name, location) and disclosing this, do not diminish the impact of stories in most cases."

Women's safety activist Lauren Caulfield shared:

"Similar questions (to Holly Z's) absolutely come up with the women's domestic violence crisis service media advocacy project. The project was established to provide support and training to women who have experienced sexual or intimate partner violence, and who wish to talk about their stories via the media or in particular public forums, as part of advocacy and violence prevention work. There are many strands and issues considered and covered in this - safety, identification, dealing with media perspectives and agendas, ethical questions around representation and gratuitous interest in violence (how to manage this, reorientation to the drivers of violence), legal issues (defamation, duty of care), emotional impacts of such storytelling, ongoing support, building storytelling as an effective tool by embedding it into/partnering it with other campaign tactics etc etc. The project is primarily a support service, endeavouring to balance ongoing support and therapeutic work with facilitating effective media advocacy by women who are survivors of violence."

Sex worker rights activist Elena Jeffreys shared materials from the Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) about media ethics and representation. This open letter shares the story of harmful and misleading practices by a journalist who gained the trust of advocates, support services and sex workers, only to disclose identities non-consensually. The harms caused by this are significant. The letter includes:

"Sex worker organisations in Australia interact with communities that require high levels of respect in regards to confidentiality and disclosure. Our work involves being aware of these issues, and developing safe spaces for sex workers to feel able to talk about their personal issues. These issues are often not discussed in any other space. When an outsider enters that space for the purpose of exploiting sex workers trust, such as journalists who stand to reap personal gain from sex workers stories, this can potentially damage the sex workers safe space, and turn it into risk for the sex workers involved. For these reasons, sex worker organisations and sex workers are incredibly reluctant to interact with journalists who request to them about their personal lives. Organisations such as Scarlet Alliance, and the myriad of sex worker organisations across Australia and around the world, prefer to present issues in systemic, industrial, civil and human rights based framework. It is rare that sex worker organisations will present identifiable and traceable personal stories. It is our duty to protect the identities of the sex workers who generously share their experiences with us."

See also 'Why Don't We Introduce Media to People Who Have Been Trafficked?' briefing paper. 

These three comments show different approaches to navigating the issues of personal stories and media ethics - changing identifying features, providing support and training, and deciding not to provide personal stories but cast issues from another perspective. What other approaches have been tried?

Thank you for all the

Thank you for all the responses - this has been helpful.  I'm also sharing this from the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. They have a section for "tips for journalsits" including reporting on trauma. This discussion reminded me and I might explore this further as a way to do more education for journalists about what it means for a person who has been a victim of extreme and/or ongoing trauma (domestic violence, sexual trafficking, slavery, torture and war atrocities). What would be most helpful is for journalists to realize if there are individuals willing to speak to them, providing a safe place, a safe experience and protection of their identity is so important and these can't be rushed.

I thought I would share some of the information we go over with journalists before an interview with a client. I think it helps them understand how important it is for them to allow the individual to determine what they will/will not share and give them the space in an interview to do that. I have never had a reporter push a torture survivor in an interview, but I will also say, it's very rare that we are able to arrance an interview because of the time as well as our lack of internal process for indentifying survivors who migth want to share some of their stories.

Media instructions:

  • A specific room or location will be designated for the interview.
  • All video/audio taping will be executed in a controlled environment (for example: audio/video taping in the reception area will not be permitted for the duration of a client phone call or in-take.)
  • The client’s written permission via a CVT Authorization for Release of Health Information (to be kept on file in the client’s records) is required for ALL of the following:
  1.    Audio and video taping of the interview with the client in the designated interview space;
  2.    Photographs of the clients taken and published;
  3.    Airing or printing the name of the client;
  4.    Identifying the client’s country of origin;
  5.    It may be necessary to disguise the client’s voice or face, if audio or video taping has been permitted. The client will determine this request.
  • CVT will not allow the media to ask for more details about the client’s torture experiences than s/he offers.  It is very difficult for survivors to recall the traumas and it could cause retraumatization.  The client also may wish to talk about positive experiences and accomplishments, but the decision to share this information must be made by the client.
  • The Client may request or refuse the presence of the Media Relations Manager at the interview. The client may also empower, via word or signal, the Media Relations Manager to terminate the interview on his or her behalf. The Media Relations Manager may use his or her discretion to terminate the interview on the client’s behalf if necessary.
More resources from WITNESS

Hi all, thanks for the excellent tips on interviewing people who've experienced trauma. I also wanted to add a resource that my colleague Rose Anderson from WITNESS recently wrote about.


In addition, here some other posts about protecting the visual privacy of people online.



Using photos to attract media attention

When engaging the media, a picture has always been, and always will be, worth a thousand words.

The state of Colorado in the U.S. experienced very heavy flooding in the past couple of weeks, displacing many people from their homes. Our national media covered it, as they do for most larger scale natural disasters where the National Guard is brought in to rescue people. There is an example from NGO's in Colorado using this news to get interest in their issue that I've also seen applied in human rights situations as well:  getting attention to their cause with photographic evidence when the world's eyes are on them.  

Their cause: fighting for tighter regulations or the banning of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), or pumping chemicals, water and sand underground to break apart rocks to release natural gas, for fear that it will contaminate groundwater, making areas unlivable for community residents. 

Armed with cameras, activists have captured images of inundated oil pads, overturned tanks and ruptured gas lines. Pictures and videos that cropped up on anti-fracking sites and in local news outlets were all a result of citizen journalists capturing the moment. They pushed the story from their own blogs, to specialty blogs and, eventually, it became national news. Sending out press releases would not have gotten the news media to talk about the threats posed by flooded fracking infrastructure.

Now, it's a story and it started with pictures. 

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