Should human rights be part of the journalism curriculum? Three out of four people in Ukraine say they find out about human rights issues from television, while 57 per cent of respondents also acknowledged that television shapes their views on human rights, says the National Human Rights Baseline Study.

More than 40 journalism students from all over Ukraine learned how to raise human rights issues in the media at the Human Rights: Media Fest. Young journalists learned how to fight all forms of discrimination and raise topics of social relevance from human rights activists during the three-day workshop. Initiated by the Institute of Journalism and the Human Rights Information Centre, in collaboration with UNDP in Ukraine, the Human Rights Media Festival was intended to promote high ethical standards among future journalists when they cover issues related to human rights, equality, and non-discrimination.

During the three-day event, young professionals have been learning how to create short videos on topics of social relevance, and were challenged to produce their own videos. At the festival, participants created videos about the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), children, Roma, and persons with disabilities. Human rights defenders and the video production team helped the students to make this happen.

The young journalists were challenged to produce the videos in only 72 hours. During this time, they had to develop the concept and the key message, write the script, decide on the location, and shoot and edit the videos. Some examples of videos produced at the festival are shown below:

The video “Need not apply” shows the problem of discrimination against IDPs and the systematic issues these people face when it comes to observance of human rights. The video is intended to stress that often we do not see a person behind someone’s IDP status.

The video “Different abilities, same rights” shows that persons with disabilities have the same rights as other people, and also reminds us that we are all equal.

The video “Eight do’s and don’ts for media when talking about Roma people” gives key messages to establish ethical standards for media materials covering Roma issues. It also reminds us that we are all entitled to all the rights and freedoms, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

The video “How to tackle violence against children and build a world free from fear for all children” filmed by journalism students, shows how violence can take different forms and that keeping silent is one of these.

The Human Rights Media Festival also helped to build a community of young journalists interested in human rights topics and motivated to raise topics of social relevance. The Festival organizers also announced the winners of a contest for student journalists on human rights topics entitled: “The 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 20th Anniversary of the National Human Rights Institution in Ukraine."

The first prize for best journalistic essay went to Mariya Smyk from Lesya Ukrainka East European National University (Lutsk). Her work focused on the issue of palliative care in Ukraine.

Among visual works, first prize went to Olha Stakhova, an Uzhgorod National University student, for her set of posters on autism. 

A special prize from the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights was won by a video covering the problem of violence by Valentyna Nemesh and Anna Lytvycnhuk from Sumy State University.

The Human Rights Media Festival is a continuation of the Human Rights Academy for Journalism Professors launched in September 2017 by the Institute of Journalism, the Human Rights Information Centre, and the Ombudsperson’s Office with UNDP support.

The Initiative was implemented under the 2015-2018 Strengthening Capacities of the Office of the Ombudsperson project, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in Ukraine with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

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