Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Do you feel like you know enough?

"Despite scouring two national newspapers every day, listening to the radio, surfing the web and watching TV news, I have absolutely no clue how the war is going."
- Letter to the editor, The Guardian, London

A quote taken from Philip Knightley's
The first casualty

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