Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Reporting conflict from South Africa-BBC WS

Having posted in Adrian Monck's blog re: him talking about the death of a talented young journalists in Iraq, I started thinking of some of the things I got upto in South Africa circa 1992-94.

Here right white militants have exploded a bomb in joberg on the eve of the election. It shook the house I was staying in. The BBC WS whom I'd now built up a relationship with rang and asked for a two way. I'd been down to the scenes past the police cordon flashing my media badge.

Below is the original post from Adrian's site and my reaction.

Whenever people ask me why I left television news (a world which - I have to say - I loved) to run a J-School, I never give the real answer.

Because the real answer is just the name of someone they (and you) probably won’t ever have heard of: Richard Wild.

Richard is gone now. He was shot dead in Baghdad in 2003. I wrote the letter that got him in to Iraq. [more…]

-- my response.

david dunkley gyimah 04.01.09 at 8:46 am

That’s a tough one to carry around Adrian. I remember reading about Richard in The Guardian and posted briefly on him last year.

It struck me as well, as often when asked by friends wanting to get a relative into journalism my advice was along the lines of ..”travel if you can to the story”.

If it’s a hot zone and you consider you have a good head, then be cautious, but go for it. I gave such advice to a senior exec from Chatham House, who would become my mentor.

For it was while fortuitously in a BBC studio interviewing South Africa’s Embassy head Kent Durr about the Boipatong Massacres with my soon -to-be-mentor there, that following the discussion, I made the decision to relocate to South Africa for 18 months.

One of the then BBC’s producers in Joberg was a savvy, streetwise, six-languages speaking journo who would take me off to see the local Totseis. ” David you just need these people to see you. They carry a lot of clout”, he’d whisper.

Though I was extremely cautious, I look back on those times travelling around the townships; night time drives in some of the worst troubled spots, and sometimes question what I was doing. I was a freelancer. A report brought in 200 UKP, but on one occasion I signed a disclaimer as I climbed into a truck for a night patrol in Katlehong - then designated the murder capital of the world.

My advice to new journalists now has changed somewhat. Richard’s death was one of the straws.