Constitutional Amendment On The Ballot, The Challenges Facing War Correspondents, Voting 101

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Tuesday is Election Day in Wisconsin and around the nation. An expert from the state’s Government Accountability Board explains everything you need to know before you go to the polls. We also learn about a constitutional amendment that could change transportation funding in Wisconsin and talk to an expert on conflict journalism about the challenges war correspondents face.

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  • Dangers Facing War Journalists Leads To Gaps In News Coverage

    The current conflict with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria has highlighted the dangers that war correspondents can face in war zones.

    According to the nonprofit Reporters without Borders, those risks have led to conflict regions without any reporters, and in turn, “black holes” in the news.

    “What with news media being closed, censored or self-censored and journalists being threatened, hunted down, arrested and sometimes murdered, the media landscape in both Iraq and Syria is now desolate,” stated a report from the group.

    Lindsay Palmer, an expert in global media ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, expressed concern over the lack of coverage in these global hot spots.

    “It is really not ethical to not have correspondents in the conflict zone … we need witnesses in these sites,” she said.

    In the absence of an independent media in parts of Iraq and Syria, the public has relied on reports from the Islamic State group itself, whichPalmer said creates an ethical dilemma for news organizations. On one hand, the debate goes, it can be important to have images to distribute that can spark debate. But in the absence of reporters, those images or messages might be propaganda.

    In these highly risky environments, according to Palmer, it is often not the well-known network journalists who take the biggest risks. Instead, those risks often lie with stringers and freelancers. “Stringers” are journalists who usually live in the conflict area and set up interviews and translate them. According to Palmer, at times when Western journalists deem a situation to be too dangerous, stringers can do all of the reporting.

    “More of them tend to die than these western correspondents that get a lot of the face time in the media,” she said.

    According to Palmer, freelancers in conflict zones go on missions that are too risky for networks to provide coverage and insurance for them. The networks, however, reward the risk by buying their stories once they are completed.

    Palmer said that in a landscape with far fewer foreign bureaus, this kind of reporting has become more common, along with an increase in “parachute reporting,” in which foreign reporters enter and cover a region they may not be acquainted with politically, socially or linguistically.

    While the conflict with the Islamic State group may pose serious threats to journalists who attempt to cover it, Palmer said that the risks reporters take are worth it.

    “I’ve interviewed a number of war correspondent sand every single one of them has said that without that work, the world would not have known what happened,” she said.

  • The Statewide Transportation Question You'll See On The Ballot Tuesday

    On Tuesday one of the questions on the ballot centers on a state constitutional amendment that create a separate transportation fund for Wisconsin. WPR’s State Capitol Reporter explains the potential constitutional amendment and how it would change the way transportation funding is handled in the state.

  • The Challenges Facing War Correspondents

    The role of journalists in conflict regions has taken on renewed importance during the conflict with ISIS–and the beheadings of journalists have pointed out the high stakes those reporters face. A UW expert on conflict journalism joins the show to talk about the challenges reporters face in war zones, and the ethical choices they make.

  • Voting 101

    Executive Director for the Wisconsin Accountability Board joins us to give us a primer on voting 101 for election day.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Lindsay Palmer Guest
  • Shawn Johnson Guest
  • Kevin Kennedy Guest
  • Amanda Magnus Producer

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