Interview to Christian Elia, a member of the Global Campus Visual Contest 2017
Interview to Christian Elia, editor of Q Code Mag, he reported as envoy about more than 40 countries for more than 20 newspapers. He coordinates the Centre for Studies and the cultural campaign for the abolition of war at the NGO Emergency.
You are the deputy editor Q Code Magazine, which is focused on narrative journalism, reportage, and multimedia. What are the characteristics of a persuasive storytelling? What’s the relation between storytelling and images?
When we talk about narrative journalist, it is important to stress that the quality of storytelling should always draw on an in-depth work of fact and data checking. In fact, too often a good writing style is regarded as a goal in itself, overlooking the fact that informing the readers should be the main aim. Starting from this premise, people need more and more a human approach. A good work should not demonise any of the actors of the context we are going to analyse, finding some humanity even in the harshest stories. In doing so, the relation between images and text is essential: different languages start from the same approach. Respectful and not stereotypical.
Memory is the product of historical developments and their interpretation by societies. Communication also plays a critical role in the construction of a collective memory. What’s the role of journalism in creating, undermining or challenging collective memory?
The media have always played a key role. One should think about the fact that this level of awareness is so widely recognized that in some cases, such as Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia, even the international institutions investigating war crimes have stressed the role of the media in those tragedies. The media have too often contributed to collective criminalizations and partial readings of the facts in order to pursue sensationalism or a political agenda. Therefore, media pluralism and independence are a priority for any civil society.
What would be your advice to a young student willing to document human rights violations?
When operating in a context of serious human rights violations, one should not forget a fundamental principle: all the violations should be reported in the same way, no matter who commits them. It is human to regard some reasons as more solid than others from someone else but this should not lead to a filter or a selective narrative. When operating in these contexts, a journalist's credibility draws on highlighting all the violations, without any dinstinction. And without ever losing tenderness.
After watching the short video “Storia di una pallottola”, a documentary realised by Emergency in Afghanistan with videos and interviews to workers of the Hospital in Kabul, many questions arise, unfortunately without easy answers. What is the impact that this documentary is having on the public and how it is linked to the campaign for the abolition of war of Emergency?
Our aim is to keep a high level of awareness on the situation in a country which was promised peace and stability and now, after the failure of our mission, finds itself in a condition of growing chaos. Moreover, we wanted to do it with a language able to speak also to an audience different from the one usually interested in these topics. The choice of an Italian actor, such as Valerio Mastandrea, has allowed us to draw the attention of a young audience; moreover, the choice of a radio project has facilitated the access to an audience that is less and less used to read traditional media. We are pretty satisfied, even because we had quite a good response from the traditional media and our web documentary has been widely spread all over Italy. A cultural initiative against war has to extensively draw on communication products able to show the growing connections between faraway conflicts and their repercussion on our everyday life.
You can follow the visual contest with the hashtag #GlobalCampusVisualContest on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Instagram. Website: www.globalcampusvisualcontest.org