by April Zhou
photos by Aubrey Tu
Minimizing harm to victims used as sources is important, Esther Htusan, a Pulitzer Prize winner, said in a lecture to journalism students and faculty this morning.
“Sometimes victims are too vulnerable to use their names,” said Htusan, taking a rape case in a Muslim village in western Myanmar as an example. The victim was only 7 years old, too young to be exposed to the public, she said. “I know it will actually weaken the story a little bit, but the safety of the victim is more important in this case.”
Htusan, a Burmese journalist for The Associated Press, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for her team’s investigation of slavery in Benjina Island.
If individual cases would put interviewees in danger, then generalize the idea and explain the background information instead of showing their faces, she said.
Respect was another key word used in the lecture. “Your job is to respect people’s identity, the way they identify themselves,” Htusan said, using the example of the Muslim minority people who call themselves “Rohingyas”.
She said that if pictures with victims need to be published, “ask permission from the victims or their families”.
“Learn ethics but develop it inside us at the same time. Seek the truth, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable. And learn from our mistakes,” Htusan advised the audience.
“No story is worth risking your life,” she added.