تمام مطالب دسته بندی: British Journalism Review
TV news: why more is less

TV news: why more is less

Viewing habits during the three-week war in Iraq tell us a great deal about the way people watch news on television. To state the blindingly obvious, big news means big news audiences. But behind the figures lies a more interesting story. During Gulf War II, two extraordinary things happened to TV news. Firstly, around a million and a half people became addicted to rolling war coverage. Sky News – the clear victor in the war of the news channels – increased its audiences by a factor of seven. In the opening days of the war, Sky News had more viewers than BBC 2, Channel 4 and Channel Five in multi-channel homes. At certain key moments, such as the opening bombardment […]

News: you want it quick or good?

News: you want it quick or good?

Over this past year, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time engaging with the issues raised by the Communications Bill, now making its way through Parliament and likely to receive Royal Assent in July. One of the things that has concerned me, perhaps more than any other single issue, is that the agenda of so-called economic liberalism which governs so much of the Government’s approach to the Bill is likely to have serious if unintended consequences for the plurality and diversity of UK media, and therefore for the quality of British journalism. Watching the recent television coverage of the war, I was forcefully reminded of just why I have become so anxious to ensure that the principles of plurality and […]

The greatest stories ever told

The greatest stories ever told

A British Journalism Review editorial board discussion on great news stories immediately prompted an argument about the necessary criteria for stories even to qualify for consideration. The main criterion, it was agreed, was historical significance – the truly great story changes the world in some way. This provoked further argument and an extraordinarily wide range of candidates – from the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of John F Kennedy, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and, of course, 9/11, to the first test tube baby and the advent of rock ’n’ roll. Since the meeting, events in Iraq have provided another contender. At the end of this article, the BJR lists those stories receiving most editorial board […]

When a journalist must tell

When a journalist must tell

There can be few worse nightmares for a journalist than to appear in the witness box giving evidence against a former source for having committed a brutal murder. But that was the position I found myself in earlier this year when Clifford George McKeown, a notorious loyalist with a long history of involvement in Northern Ireland terrorism, came up for the murder of 37year-old Michael McGoldrick, a part-time Catholic taxi-driver from Lurgan, Co. Armagh. On the night of 7 July 1996 McKeown had pumped five bullets into the back of McGoldrick’s head from close range in a professional paramilitary killing. Three years later I had gone to see him in Maghaberry Prison about other matters. After swearing me to silence […]

Living with press eurotrash

Living with press eurotrash

Ever since the UK joined the Common Market in 1973, tales have abounded of an overweening bureaucracy attempting to wrest control of Britain into its own hands. Continual warnings of “barmy EU edicts” issued by “faceless eurocrats”, which have surreptitiously impinged upon British life to deleterious effect, have been the mainstay of EU reporting in much of the UK press. Indeed, were every portentous prediction to have come to fruition we would now be living in a kind of Orwellian dystopia, with many aspects of British life, from the minutiae to the monumental, pre-ordained by the abstract monolith known as “Brussels”. We would be driving along roads with alien numbers: E30, E73, E92. Roads no longer lined with hedgerows full […]

What now? A letter from Kuwait City

What now? A letter from Kuwait City

The number of journalists killed or wounded during the war in Iraq was disproportionate for such a conflict and emphasised once again how hazardous it can be to seek the truth and communicate it to a world at the mercy of spin and counter-spin. In tribute to the brave journalists who lost their lives trying to do just that, British Journalism Reviewrepublishes here the final column written by the American Michael Kelly, first posthumously published in the May issue of his magazine, The Atlantic Monthly. One of the larger news features of mid-February was the arrival in Baghdad of some 200 peace missionaries from around the world, who had come, they announced in appropriately grave tones, to serve as “human […]

The wow factor

The wow factor

The Iraq war was a good war for women war reporters. We were there in force. That’s not to say we outnumbered the men – far from it – but our profile was high, and that was no accident. The role of women war reporters has changed significantly. Not only are there more female foreign correspondents now than ever before in high-profile reporting jobs, but women reporting wars seems almost to be a vogue. There is a wellentrenched belief at a high level of media management that audiences want to see and hear women on their screens. If press coverage of media deployments is anything to go by, women reporting wars also has an added “wow” value. In Britain and […]

Not war reporting – just reporting

Not war reporting – just reporting

It was only when I was standing naked in the Iraqi desert that I realised how far I’d sunk. We were queuing for the showers at our neighbouring regiment’s encampment. The cold lawn-sprinkler could take four at a time. Journalists and soldiers stood – very distinctively – side by side. Ahead of me in the line, two equally clothesless officers greeted each other warmly and began catching up on lost times. In cut-glass accents, they sighed and tutted as one of them, a major, recalled a mutual friend who hadn’t been the same since he’d caught some metal in the head in the Falklands. I stared vacantly forward. After a while, I became aware of Ben Brown, the BBC TV […]

History or bunkum?

History or bunkum?

The Pentagon made it clear from the beginning of the war against Iraq that there would be no censorship. What it failed to say was that war correspondents might well find themselves in a situation similar to that in Korea in 1950. This was described by one American correspondent as the military saying: “You can write what you like – but if we don’t like it we’ll shoot you.” The figures in Iraq tell a terrible story. Fifteen media people dead, with two missing, presumed dead. If you consider how short the campaign was, Iraq will be notorious as the most dangerous war for journalists ever. This is bad enough. But – and here we tread on delicate ground – […]

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