Foreign Correspondents: How Women have changed the Role

Five strong women journalists stood on Wednesday morning at the Sala Della Vaccara to talk about themselves, their jobs and the great people that they have met along the way. Jina Moore, East Africa bureau chief at the New York Times moderated the event inviting Alison Baskerville, Anna Holligan, Cassandra Vinograd and Jean Lee to take part to #UsToo, by sharing their own stories.

The first speaker was Baskerville, documentary filmmaker, who spoke of the issues of safety trainings and gendered based violence within the media industry. As Baskerville condemned, safety trainings are only privileges of foreign correspondents. Although media NGOs constantly refer to the importance of supporting freelancers, fixers and local journalists with medical and safety training, for Baskerville, this is an issue that too many times Media organisations do not want to face. In order to counter gendered based violence, harassment and rape within media, Baskerville created ROAAR, a movement dedicated to help educate and empower people to feel safe in their own skin. Responding to questions of what needs to be done in order to protect women journalists, Baskerville argued that by investigating who makes gendered based discriminating decisions towards women, the ultimate goal should not be how to protect women but how not having to protect them.

The breaking news BBC foreign correspondent, Anna Holligan, discussed about of a whole different set of issues within the media industry. Ever since she had a baby, Holligan has been trying to resolve the many issues and difficulties of balancing being a mother and a foreign correspondent. To do so, Holligan decided to take her baby to work, juggling breastfeeding with interviewing public figures. Holligan strongly supported the necessity of not having to rely on the good will of a partner in order to raise a baby. The journalist claimed that no journalist should be faced with the decision of giving up on having a baby in order to maintain a high role within the media industry.

Reporting from the other side of the world, Lee, American Korean journalist and Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, achieved her dream of founding the AP’s Pyongyang bureau. By discussing the sacrifices of being a Korean-American journalist in an authoritarian country, Lee stressed how the main objective of her work is to portray both the humanity of North Koreans and the social issues within the country.

To conclude this event, Vinograd, freelance journalist and reporter in conflict zones, claimed there is a lot of work to be done to safeguard the media. Speaking of psychological disorders such as PTSD, Vinograd stated that it is essential to train journalists to know their bodies and learn what are the triggering symptoms of stress.

Lucrezia Vittori