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Calls for empathy in crisis reporting

Empathy is at the heart of crisis reporting, according to news leaders at the Global News Forum in New Delhi.

A panel discussion on the role of media during times of crisis and major change encouraged journalists to emphathise with victims.

CNN Delhi correspondent Vedika Sud recalled covering the second wave of Covid-19. She noted that while credibility and fact-based reporting were still the most essential elements of reporting, showing empathy and sensitivity towards victims eased their pain and could also have a positive effect on journalists’ mental health.

Indra Singh, Chairman of the ABU News Group, agreed that instead of sensationalising adversity and human suffering, journalists should look to solutions-based journalism so that their work brings positive change.

Acknowledging the challenges brought by the click-bait culture on social media, he said when delivering news – especially to younger generations, “the human factor is most important before deciding to flatter our TV screens with only things that would sell”.

Senior Vice President of ABS-CBN in the Philippines and Head of News and Current Affairs, Regina Reyes, noted that reporters risk their lives and broadcasters pull in extra funding and resources in times of crisis, because they provide a bridge to audiences and information that can save lives.

“This is our duty, our mission and our responsibility to inform and educate the public, not only reporting the facts but also devoting resources for research,” she said.

The Director-General News at All India Radio, Vasudha Gupta, reiterated the power of radio especially in times of disaster.

She said public broadcasters play a major role in connecting with community and “control the ‘panic button’ during crisis”.

The discussion was moderated by senior DDI anchor Sakal Bhatt. More than 170 delegates took part in the Global News Forum.