I’ve just been listening to the radio, Radio 5 to be exact. Richard Bacon that loveable non-rogue is presenting and talking to a BBC (yet another) correspondent in Tripoli right now. The correspondent is near the compound now under control of the rebels (why they are called rebels when Gaddifi, a tyrant who took over in a coup I don’t know) but where there is still sporadic gunfire by Gaddafi loyalists. The tragedy was the journalists couldn’t leave the hotel.
What annoyed me what this question from Bacon:
So you are now outside the compound. Are you saying there are actually journalists trapped in there?
Oh My God….could a journalist actually get hurt doing his job? Can we afford it? Or is the drama related to the lack of tonic for their gins.
The sight of journalists in enormous flak jackets and helmets interviewing the locals is embarrassing. The locals in the background look on amused. The BBC footage of ‘themselves’ coming under fire was hilarious. While the rest of the convoy continued into Tripoli, the BBC pick-up with its Western driver (probably ex-army) pulled a U-turn and drove off at pace with the important people, cowering in their flak jackets and helmets. The BBC then reported it as if they (the BBC) themselves were targeted.
Well so far very few journalists have been injured or killed in his war. Tim Hetherington, the photojournalist was killed by shelling in April alongside an American photographer caused much hand-wringing. Both sides understand the power of media representation and like in most modern wars have shied away from hurting journalists. The stats show that more journalists died in ‘peaceful times,’ usually at the behest of the state. Indonesia, Russia and Colombia have a pretty poor record here.
I congratulate the journalists for being out there and secretly I ‘m a bit jealous. Moments of crises reveal much about societies and the human psyche. It’s in these stressful times when we see whether we’re able to endure suffering and anger and still find meaning beyond revenge.
It might be asking too much of the journalists to delve that deep in the immediacy of a war but to show the warts, disasters and triumphs involves taking risks. The subsequent reports about some journalists covering Fukushima indicated ignorance and panic. Its a journalist’s job to search deeper. That’s front-line journalism at its most revealing, genuine and useful.