Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Blair and Bush can say what they like

Yesterday veteran war correspondent Patrick Cockburn was published in the Independent declaring that Iraq is too dangerous for outsiders. Cockburn describes Iraq as "the great crisis of our era" that television has found impossible to cover. He points out that Iraqi insurgents and militias have done Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George Bush a favour by killing and kidnapping journalists. When Tony Blair claims there is progress in Iraq there is no way of knowing if this is true as Iraq is now virtually a "media-free zone". Blair and Bush can say what they like.

Cockburn identifies the fundamental problem facing cameramen being that by the very nature of their trade they are unable to go undetected with the equipment. But important events are going unrecorded.

The emphasis on this war being like no other before is great. Iraq is worse. Earlier this month the Swedish media held a seminar following the death of war correspondent Martin Alder. There is a huge effort being concentrated on how to cover the news without more deaths. Television companies are giving up on coverage and this is presenting a turning point. This year the Royal Television Society's award went to Iraqi cameramen. There is a movement toward training local people as cameramen and developing the technology that enables all work to be elicited by one person transmitted digitally to news rooms, ditching the colonial approach of four man teams.

Following so many deaths it is reputed that foreign journalists spend their time in the Green Zone. The Rory Peck Trust was set up in 1995, named after a freelance cameraman who was killed in Moscow, to support the families of freelance cameramen. It has since extended aid to writers. Cockburn briefly touches on the personal loss he has suffered as many of his friends have been killed in war zones. He also recounts viewing a tape that not only demonstrates the brutality of war but more specifically the violence endured by those trying to bring the truth home, “The lens of the camera covering his last moments of life was smeared with blood.”

To see the original article: War Reporting Iraq: Only locals need apply
For more information on The Rory Peck Trust


Anonymous said...

what do I have to do to bloody comment on this blog?

sean said...

Unfortunately according to the veteran journalist Phillip Knightley the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not the first to be too dangerous to report on. In his excellent history of the War Correspondent, The First Casualty: From the Crimea to Kosovo he states that ever since the Falklands War of 1984, correspondents have, largely, been dependent on the military. And that coverage has obviously suffered because of it.

Anonymous said...

OK figured it.
For what it's worth, the war on Iraq stinks. But war stinks. it always has. It is a riduclous waste of our human intelligence. All you have to do is look at the wasted lives. The young people who we love - whoever we are, from whatever 'side' we come from - dying or being horrificaly injured for something that our respective 'politicians' decide is 'worthwhile'.
Tell that to the families of the soldiers who died in the trenches of WW 1 or the armies who starved and perished in the Soviet winters of WW2. Not to mention Vietnam or the Killing Fields of Cambodia......or the numerous horrors of the African continent...or latterly those young people who kill themselves in bloody acts of so called 'martyrdom' for their 'faiths'.
Death is death. It is not glorious. Only the business of the living losing life.
We send our best, our young, our finest and most cherished, set them to maim, man to man, woman to woman, person to person to commit acts of unimaginable horror.. Who wins?
So I don't believe in war? Yes, you are right - however it is reported.
You might mention Hitler and other acts in our species dreadful history of genocide. You might say who, if not us, was there to stop them if not a nation or nations prepared to die in a just cause?
I despair because you are right and i do not have the answer. But is it not true that violence also breeds violence? So in place of war .. reacting in Peace? Deressingly it seems impossible to say vice versa in this context.
In the business of reporting is it possible to distance the acts of war from what we (the reporter's audience) perceive as just or unjust causes of it?
Is it possible to remain uninvolved enough?

Anonymous said...

We are at war because people are not born equal. Lets face it, we wouldn't have any of the sweet luxuries that we enjoy today if our big brave government wasnt out there asserting our 'right' to enjoy them. The fact is that as UK/US citizens constituting 5% of the worlds population, we own and control a hideosly disproportionate amount of the worlds resources. Could you give up your nice big room with your computer, your Tesco's finest organic microwave dinners, and your 2001 Shiraz Cabernet if our government decided to peace out and share the wealth? They are just preserving and trying to better our way of life, unfortunately on a real level that means exerting as much power as is necessary. Maybe if we were afforded real reporting from warzones with all the blood and guts, the government would get more feedback about genuine public opinion. Who knows, maybe a non-agressive party will be elected one day.