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The appeal of journalists raises controversy: – You must be able to call a spade a spade

The appeal of journalists raises controversy: – You must be able to call a spade a spade

Frederic Solvang led the debate “Journalist or Human?” On the first day of the Skup conference in Tonsberg on Friday.

There, one question was whether it was possible for journalists to let go of their emotions while covering the war in Gaza.

– I can't do that, answers NRK's ​​Middle East correspondent Yama Wasmal.

– I have never hidden the fact that I am first and foremost a human being in the misery I have to convey. “I can't put my emotions on ice while I'm at work,” he explains.

Read the latest news about the conflict between Hamas and Israel

Wlasmal says that sometimes he has to put his journalistic role aside, for example when an interviewee breaks down in front of the camera.

Then the person comes forward to console a man who lost his son, he says.

In addition to Yama and Lasmal, Aftenposten editor-in-chief Trine Eilertsen, communications advisor Abdurrahman Hassan in the Culture Directorate, Dagen editor Vibjörn Selbeck, and influencer Frida Marie Grande also participated in the discussion.

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– It has become difficult to use emotions

Abdel Rahman Hassan is a former journalist for Aftenposten newspaper. Last fall, he participated in an initiative calling on journalists to support Palestinian journalists.

– I sat at the desk in Aftenposten and saw a report submitted by Yama and started crying at work. It's normal for us to react this way, but I didn't want anyone to see me cry at work. Then I wondered why it had become so difficult for journalists to use emotions in what we create and report, Hassan says.

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He says it is important to present a petition that can be agreed upon by as many people as possible, while at the same time not wanting to obscure the truth. It will be difficult.

– We know that Palestinian journalists are the ones who risk more than others in the conflict, he says.

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Read also: Aftenposten journalists appeal for support for their fellow journalists in the war zone

He went several laps with the lead

During his work, he noticed that other journalists asked questions about their competence and integrity. There were also objections to the content of the appeal, both from colleagues and managers.

-We received some feedback that the call could be interpreted as biased, meaning that we mentioned Palestinian journalists, but also included the number of Israeli journalists killed. There was also a discussion about which journalistic voices should be highlighted, Hassan says.

Aftenposten editor Trine Eilertsen says they went through several rounds of designing the appeal with staff.

We talked about its content, how it might appear, and whether there were points that could cause unintended problems for Aftenposten journalists. It's about integrity and competence. This could have consequences for Aftenposten's viewpoint, says Eilertsen.

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She believes the final version of the petition arrived “perfectly.”

-You must be able to call a spade a spade

Yama Wasmal disagrees, as he is one of the journalists who signed the petition. However, he believes that the petition has been watered down each time a new version is prepared.

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– As with everything else on this site, there was a lot of 'one side and the other'. He says that there is no doubt that the vast majority of those killed in this war are Palestinians.

– When it comes to killing journalists, there is nothing to compare it to. There is one party responsible for the vast majority of murders. We must be able to call a spade a spade.

Dagen's editor Vibjörn Selbeck did not sign the petition. He also doesn't want his newspaper's journalists to do that.

– It is important to distinguish between journalism and activism. This applies regardless of the sympathy or hatred you have. There are divided opinions about the conflict in Dagen as well, but I don't want journalists to come out in the open and take a strong position, either on one side or the other. It automatically creates an efficiency problem.

The article was first published by