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» Azerbaijani journalists train in war journalism in Turkey
25/08/2021 Yazdır

22 Azerbaijani reporters recount what they learned in 'tough' 12-day training program in Ankara

A group of Azerbaijani reporters who took part in the 18th war journalism training program conducted in coordination between Anadolu Agency, Turkey's state-run aid agency, and the police academy, stressed on Thursday the importance of the experience they gained during their lessons in "tough conditions."

Organized as part of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA)'s Correspondent Training Program and with the contributions of the Azerbaijan Media Development Agency, the 12-day event aimed to boost the abilities of reporters to operate and survive in conflict zones and emergency situations.

Azerbaijani media representatives said the training they received had been a good opportunity for every journalist, and that thanks to this training, they "corrected the wrongs they thought were right."

The training included both theoretical and practical lessons given by experts at the Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) and the criminal department police teams.

Elmira Musazade, editor-in-chief at Azerbaijan's CBC TV Specials, told Anadolu Agency that she first started working on the front line in a conflict in 2017, where she said she personally understood the importance of reporting accurate news professionally. War journalism is "a completely different dimension of journalism," she said.

"In this sense, this course helped us to understand more deeply what should be done in such areas, in different situations, in conflict zones, be an earthquake, a fire ... How one should behave in these conditions. Each of these has its own characteristics and rules of behavior. We learned all of that in this training," Musazade said.

Since regaining its independence in 1991, Azerbaijan has had tense relations with neighboring Armenia, as the latter's military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.

When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, during the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade occupation.

She emphasized that they fulfilled the tasks given as part of the training in teamwork.

"This has always been the most important issue for me. The number of people who took the task should be equal to the number of people completing that task ... We don't leave anyone among us behind. This is the main rule. I think this training is a great opportunity for every journalist," said Musazade.

Above expectations

Jeyhun Mustafayev, a news reporter at Azerbaijani broadcaster ITV, said the program far exceeded his expectations.

Mustafayev said he learned how to get objective news on time by protecting himself and his equipment, adding that these were skills that all war journalists needed to have.

He went on to say that the importance of journalists' safety was an important part of the training.

"You go there to report the news, but if you die, you'll be in the news. In order to prevent this from happening, it's necessary to attend the training to be able to cover news from war zones," he said.

"I wouldn't recommend anyone to become a war journalist without receiving this training. It's a necessity ... This training will contribute to our safety on the job and the protection of our equipment."

Wrongs thought were right

Kamil Eldaroglu Balakishyev, an editor-in-chief at broadcaster Real TV, said the training helped participants correct their inaccurate assumptions on how to act on the battlefield.

"Teaching the theoretical and practical lessons we received from the experts here to our colleagues in Azerbaijan will increase their love for their profession," he said.

Balakishyev highlighted that the most important aspect of training courses was to teach a journalist how to ensure his own safety through practical training.

Noting that although the training sessions were tiring and tough, Balakishyev said they were proud to have undergone them.

"It's necessary and important for people like us to come to this training and learn special lessons," he added.

New surprises every day

Elnur Tofiq, a war journalist working for the Azerbaijan state-run network AZTV, said he had attended many training sessions, but that this program was "different" from the others because of the practical lessons and its difficulty.

He said they encountered "new surprises every day" and that it was an "exciting" program.

"In short, we actually went through a war. Now, we've come to the end of the training. This means we survived this war," he said.

Tofiq wowed that he would teach his colleagues, especially journalists working in conflict zones, what he learned in the program in Turkey.

"But, being here is another pleasure. In short, it's a very difficult and fun training program at the same time."

Training closely related to profession

ATV broadcaster correspondent Ismayil Amirov said all of the courses they took during their training were on subjects closely related to their profession.

"All this information will be necessary for my future activities. Here, we also learned the right way of doing certain things we knew before but used to apply differently," he said.

Amirov stressed that he would recommend the training to his colleagues working in conflict zones.

"Honestly, I didn't expect this much. When it comes to the training program, I thought it would be an hour or two a day, but there were days that I didn't sleep at all. I never envisioned it. These are the things that are done for the future, for us to be good journalists," he concluded.


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