Jeremy Bowen to speak on reporting suffering
World Have Your Say, a BBC World Service radio programme, is going to be discussing when and whether a reporter should help the suffering subjects of their news stories.
Though not exactly a new topic, the idea for the debate, entitled ‘To report – or to help?’ was sparked by a blog post written by CNN journalist, John Vause, who faced this dilemma when covering the recent earthquake in China:
‘What do you do when you have two vehicles, a spare seat and hurt people beg you to take them in the other direction to hospital?’
One of the panellists the World Have Your Say team have lined up is BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen. Having covered wars in the Middle East, and the Balkans, he is well-qualified to talk about covering suffering.
Over three years ago, Bowen broadcast a piece for BBC One called ‘On the Front Line’. I dug out the online article that accompanied the programme and it gives an insight into how Bowen might be approaching some of the issues:
‘Reporting wars is very intrusive. You enter people’s lives at their worst moments. A good day for us is always the worst day or the last day for them. The only justification is that reporting the truth is essential.’
The World Have Your Say debate will be on air at 6pm (BST) this evening, but you can get involved on their blog right now.