International Journalism Week 2018 banner, with a section of a blocky/digitised Earth

Group Student Challenge winners

Congratulations to the three superb winning teams in our Group Student Challenge!

First prize

Case study: Turkey

Mingyi Chen
Ella Craig
Chai-Yu Hsiao
Tevy Kuch
Catherine Lewis
Tianzi Liu
Sama Ansari Pour
Ekaterina Yvurkova

Second prize

Case study: Reporters Without Borders

Ying Zhou
Jiahui Chu
Yun Gu
Ning Chen
Yi Yuan
Yuxi Chen
Shuyan Dong
Yilun Shao
Can Shen

Third prize

Case study: Russia

Ryan Betts
Alex Brotherton
Ben Bruce
Finn Byrne
Fraser Harding
Alex Jones
Sam Moorhouse
Liam Warden

Competition details

Following last year's hugely successful Group Student Challenge, we are giving students the opportunity to once again actively participate in International Journalism Week.

This is a group activity and students from the Department of Journalism Studies will be able take part, helping them understand not only what it is like to report in countries where there are high risks, but also something about the many organisations which campaign for the protection of journalists and journalism.

Have a look at the information below and find out how to sign up for the challenge. You will have received an email about the challenge on 29 October. Places and themes for the case studies will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. You can sign up at the opening session of International Journalism Week on Monday 5 November at 10am in St George's Church. If you arrange a team of up to nine students before this, please email Dr Emma Heywood to let her know (

The challenge and presentations are incredibly rewarding for those who work on them and for the audience. What is more, there will be certificates of achievement and a small prize for the best three case studies!


In a world where information on a global scale appears to be readily available through the explosion of social media and technological developments, freedom to express that information has never been so threatened. Censorship in its many forms attacks press freedom and freedom of information, rights which UNESCO considers to be the "crucial foundations of democracy".

In many cases, the lives of journalists are put at risk. In 2012, the United Nations developed a Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in an attempt to fight crimes against journalists, end impunity, and ultimately to ensure greater freedom of expression and media freedom in countries around the globe. Each year news organisations and journalists mark 2 November as International Day to end Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

The safety and security of journalists in many countries are severely threatened because of their work. Journalism is also threatened by government, political and corporate interference, control and censorship. Since 2009, the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) at the Department of Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield has been an active participant in the global efforts to improve the safety of journalists, illuminate where news media freedom is undermined or abused and to examine news media standards of independence and truthfulness. CFOM is striving to highlight the role of free and independent news media in building and maintaining political and civil freedoms worldwide.

The 2018 Student Challenge, taking place during International Journalism Week, will raise awareness among young and future journalists not only of the harsh reality that journalists and media face while reporting – work that can cost them their lives – but also about the numerous national and international organisations that campaign for freedom of speech and for the protection of both journalism and journalists.

View the programme of talks and events for International Journalism Week

Student Challenge: Case study of a country or an organisation

Working in groups of up to nine people, you will carry out a case study project based on a real-life media and journalism topical issue linked to the themes of the week's lectures. You will get to know other people on your course and acquire academic skills which will help you in the rest of your studies and your future employment. You will participate actively in your group and attend key events and lectures that take place during the week.

Your group will conduct independent research but it will also have an opportunity to take part in a workshop led by a tutor. To successfully complete this challenge, you will need to participate actively in your group and attend the events taking place during International Journalism Week. At the end of the week you are expected to produce a short presentation to share the findings of your project. All projects will be judged by a panel comprising of members of staff from the Department of Journalism Studies. The best three will receive special certificates of achievement, and their names and work will be published on the department's website.

How to enter

The challenge is open to all journalism students at the University of Sheffield. As soon as you arrange your groups, please email Dr Emma Heywood ( and register your choice of case study (a country or an organisation) and the names and registration numbers of your group members. You can also sign up for a group on Monday 5 November at the introductory session of International Journalism Week, but please be aware that countries and organisations will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. (Representatives from some of the case study organisations will be presenting during IJW.)

Case study countries


Case study organisations

Index on Censorship
Reporters Without Borders
Committee to Protect Journalists
Pen International

Issues to consider

If you choose a country as your case study you could think about the following questions. These are just examples – feel free to change them or contribute with your own.

• What are the problems in your country that place journalists and media outlets in danger?

• What is the state of free speech in your country? Think about physical and political constraints that put journalism in danger. (In some countries, it's not possible for journalists to tell the truth. Existence of government control, censorship, self-censorship and propaganda.)

• How do these constraints affect the output of media outlets? Does the audience become aware that it's happening?

• What is the political relationship of your country with the rest of the world? Does that affect media and journalism?

• Do audiences in the country have opportunities to participate, to get information out and bypass media and journalists? (eg citizen journalism, social media)

• How is corporate and political power exercised in the media (examples). Does media ownership put constraints on journalism and if so how?

• Are journalists finding it difficult to do their jobs? Why? Are there any legal mechanisms in your country to protect journalists and their sources?

• Is there impunity against those who assault and murder journalists in your country? Are there any steps being taken to address the problem?

If you choose an organisation as your case study you could think about the following questions. These are just examples – feel free to change them or contribute with your own.

• Does your organisation have a mission statement, what are its main objectives? Where does it operate? (context)

• What are the origins of this organisation? Who are its founders? Has its original focus broadened? Does it just focus on one area (protecting/campaigning for journalists) or more than one (advocacy)?

• How does it raise awareness of its own campaigns? (Own publications, websites, celebrities…)

• Does it suffer criticism or censorship itself? Does it have government or international support?

• Has it led any particular campaigns which have been successful (or not) and associated in any way to journalism in high-risk environments (involving individuals, countries, governments, awareness)? What did they focus on? How did they know that it had been successful?

What you will learn from the case study challenge

The challenge will develop your analytical and research skills in a number of ways:

  • Work as a team in deciding how you will approach the case study, what you will research and why.
  • Find and access information relevant to the issues you will discuss, making use of good searching principles and techniques.
  • Evaluate information sources, distinguishing scholarly sources from other content and critically assessing information from internet and other sources.
  • Manage information – and time – using online and other appropriate resources.
  • Evaluate, interpret and collect evidence and examples for your case study.
  • Identify threats to reporting and media freedom in the country that you are studying.
  • Analyse problems that media and journalists face.
  • Negotiate with your team on tasks and duties.
  • Plan and deliver engaging and well-argued presentation with your team.

Facilitated workshops

There are three workshops scheduled for Tuesday 6 November at G12, 9 Mappin Street, and B51 (Portobello Centre). You will have to attend only one of those workshops in your group and have the opportunity to discuss your ideas and case study with your tutors. The workshops are a great opportunity to find out what other students are doing and get some feedback on your project. The workshops are informal and members of staff will also be dropping in to talk about your case studies. The workshops will be allocated as follows:

Workshop 1

Groups 1, 2 and 3

B51, Portobello Centre

Workshop 2

Groups 4, 5 and 6

G12 (Groups 4,5,6)

Workshop 3

Groups 7, 8 and 9

G12, 9 Mappin Street

Study resources

Freedom House

Freedom House is a non-governmental organisation based in Washington DC. It publishes an annual Global Survey of Media Independence. It covers 196 countries and 18 related or disputed territories. Links freedom of the media to factors such as political, economic and legal environments of each country and whether the countries promote and do not restrict the free flow of information.

The Freedom of the Press is an annual survey of media independence in 197 countries and territories (running since 1980). It one of the most comprehensive data sets available on media freedom. The index assesses the degree of print, broadcast, and Internet freedom in every country in the world, analysing the events of each calendar year. It provides numerical rankings and rates each country's media as "free", "partly free", or "not free". Country narratives examine the legal environment for the media, political pressures that influence reporting, and economic factors that affect access to information. They provide a map over which you can place a cursor to look at the levels of media freedom in each country via different scores given to press freedom, economic environment, political environment and legal environment.


Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders was founded in Montpellier (France) in 1985 by four journalists: Robert Ménard, Rémy Loury, Jacques Molénat and Émilien Jubineau. This association, registered as a non-profit organisation in France since 1995, soon took on an international dimension.

Under the direction of Christophe Deloire, Reporters Without Borders organised its team of researchers by geographical area. The organisation also gradually developed two essential and highly specialised spheres of activity: one focused on internet censorship and the new media, and the other devoted to providing material, financial and psychological assistance to journalists assigned to dangerous areas.

Reporters Without Borders is registered in France as a non-profit organisation and has consultant status at the United Nations and UNESCO. Reporters Without Borders' activities are carried out on five continents through its network of over 150 correspondents, its national sections, and its close collaboration with local and regional press freedom groups. Reporters Without Borders currently has 10 offices and sections worldwide.

The World Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by RWB based upon the organisation's assessment of the countries' press freedom records in the previous year. It reflects the degree of freedom that journalists, news organisations, and netizens enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to respect and ensure respect for this freedom. Reporters Without Borders is careful to note that the index only deals with press freedom and does not measure the quality of journalism nor does it look at human rights violations in general.


US State Dept. Human Rights reports on every country in the world annually – not statistically detailed, but quite in-depth on press freedom and journalists' security/safety issues.

Many of the ODIHR/OSCE Final Reports of election observer missions across the 57 OSCE participating states have good analysis of media manipulation and violence as a significant element in assessing the freedom or not of elections.

Reports of the UN and regional Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression – notably the OSCE on
Check special publications on journalists' safety and protection, including violations.

Committee to Protect Journalists, 'Who Kills Journalists and Why: Report by the Committee to Protect Journalists to the committee of inquiry' (23 May 2005)
Note: there are many interesting reports on this website.


Horsley, W. and Harrison, J. 'Censorship by Bullet', British Journalism Review (2013) BJR Vol. 24, No.1, March 2013.

Smyth, F. 'Iraq War and the News Media: A look inside the death toll' (18 March 2013) CPJ

Wilford, M. (Fall 2009) 'The Big Story: Our embattled media' World Affairs

Index on Censorship and Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso
These organisations map the state of media freedom in Europe. With public participation, they are mapping the violations, threats and limitations that European media professionals, bloggers and citizen journalists face every day. They are also collecting feedback on what would support journalists in such situations – in a crowdsourcing effort

Thompson Reuters Foundation (2015) 'Defence Handbook for Journalists and Bloggers on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Information Principles in International Law'

The Defence Handbook for Journalists and Bloggers focuses specifically on the application of international legal principles to the work of journalists. It includes decisions and recommendations made by international and regional bodies and courts in relation to various aspects of freedom of speech, including: international sources of law giving rise to freedom of expression and freedom of information principles; defamation; the right to privacy; protection of public order and morality; and national security and state secrets.

UNESCO 2016 Director-General's Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity

International Day to End Impunity 2017