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Journalism Makes A Difference

BBC Panorama documentary The Secret World Of Trading Nudes has helped change a law whilst another sparked a campaign in Parliament.

Monika Plaha, a panel guest at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week, investigated the secret online trade of sexually explicit images and videos for a BBC Panorama documentary. She worked on the documentary for over 12 months and it initiated conversations on the laws and safety online. Monika received a call from the Law Commission who said that the Panorama documentary had helped change the law. Monika said: “It was the biggest thing I have achieved.”

This is not an isolated case. Fellow panel member Rahil Sheikh, a journalist and producer, worked on BBC Panorama’s Undercover: Britain’s Biggest GP Chain, which led to a campaign in Parliament and resulting in some GP practices losing their licence. Rahil said it was his “most rewarding story.”

The idea for The Secret World Of Trading Nudes came from an Instagram direct message to Monika which explained about an online community on reddit sharing indecent images. From this Monika said: “We went on a journey and brought that issue into the limelight and managed to get a strong conversation going.”

Similarly, the idea for Undercover: Britain’s Biggest GP Chain came from someone outside of Panorama about a local issue. Rahil investigated and said “it opened a whole world, and we need to do something about this.”

Everyday people, their lives and issues they encounter are at the core of every story for these journalists. Rahil said: “I’m motivated by shedding light on things and people that are under reported and underrepresented.” Monika explained her motivations were about “raising awareness, educating people and creating real life change.”

These two documentaries demonstrate how journalism takes an issue that may be hidden from the public. It could be secret communities online or something that appears to only be a local issue and investigates and digs deeper to find out what is happening and to who. Journalists like Monika and Rahil give this issue a platform which allows the public to understand what is happening. Rahil said: “I got into journalism thinking I want to make change and represent these voices.” This has inspired conversations which has led to campaigns and changes in the law.

Monika reflecting on her documentary helping to change a law.

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