On Wednesday April 18th at the Oregon State Correctional Institution, University of Oregon professors Peter Laufer and Steven Shankman initiated the 2012 conference of Conflict Sensitive Reporting.

Professor Laufer began by introducing the concept of conflict sensitive reporting to the 24 Inside-Out students.  He explained that he is currently teaching a class on conflict sensitive reporting; conflict sensitive reporting is attempting a new approach to journalism which allows the writer to acknowledge his or her own personal biases, but also allowing to garner as much information and attempt to understand the grey area of a news story.

Conflict sensitive reporting can be used in matters ranging from Eugene’s debate over the expansion of the EMX as well as topics as serious as the violent conflict in Syria. 

The inside students immediately delved into their personal experiences with insensitive reporting regarding prisons and prisoners.  The media has its own agenda and has portrayed prisons in a certain light

Professor Laufer sat in on an Inside-Out class to observe and report on this unique class experience.  He plans to write an op-ed piece on the class and his experience in the classroom.   

The class itself is centered on the novel Life and Fate written by Vasily Grossman who was a conflict reporter for the Red Star during WWII.  The class and the two professors what it means to have observed the type of horrors Grossman had seen and the ways in which it affected his writing and his reporting.

The whole class mulled over the meaning of conflict sensitive reporting, Professor Laufer pointed out that while teaching this class he is making it up as he goes along, everyday he is getting closer to a definition of what it means to be a conflict sensitive reporter.

The conference will take place May 17th-19th at the University of Oregon, including a panel on “Encountering the Other”, Friday, May18th 1:30-3:30 in Gerlinger Hall.