Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Crime reporting

London's girl gangs - police estimate at least three "families" in the capital; black soldiers asked to help mentor disaffected youth; the convicted killer of Philip Lawrence Chindamo's deportation row - busy week for mainstream media reportage .

BBC Radio 4's The Today programme produced an edgy radio package for its audience about gangs this morning; overall figures estimated at a conservative 170.

A couple of days ago, another story you can hear their reporter being threatened by a gang of youths as he solicits their views. Some weeks back BBC Newsnight hands over DVCams to youngster for them to tell their story.

There appears the perception that crime reportage is shifting more towards explaining what's going on, rather than always reacting to the latest fatality. There have been many this year.

In print, The Guardian maintains its status quo in reportage - a front page lead last monday. Whilst in broadcasting the BBC seems to be setting the agenda. If the networks don't pick up on it, it is the issue that dare not speak its name.

In a multifarious, multimedia age, you'd think there should be more high profile alternative media keeping this debate going.

Reporting crime has its own risks. I have run into a few myself.

One of the most memorable at Channel One TV coming back from a report and finding my car ransacked by three youths; one still in the vehicle. I was holding a bvw400 camera - cost at the time about 20,000 ukp. So in short if you are doing Videojournalism, be careful.

We often speak about the whizz bang from this craft and not about health and safety. I recall switching the camera on and filming he group as I struggled to get into my car. I showed the footage to the authorities afterwards, but that came to nothing.

Today, if I am going out on a story; I am tonight to help a former student, I go light and would advise as I do to the newspaper industry to use smaller HD cams and ditch the tripod that says "yep in this ruck sack, there's likely to be a camera.

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