THIRD PARTY EVENT: Are cheap, local hires saving or ruining foreign reporting?

Talk March 19, 2012 7:00 PM

How are the rules of reporting being rewritten by risk? What innovative methods are journalists using to report from some of the world’s most dangerous places?

Journalists working in areas of conflict reveal how they get information when traditional techniques are insufficient. The discussion will focus on the interaction between local hires and foreign journalists.

Local journalists are typically less conspicuous and more mobile than their foreign counterparts. They perform a vital service – bringing information from areas that are off-limits to the foreign press. Perhaps most critically for a cash-starved news industry, they are also cheaper to use than Western news gatherers.

But are they cutting corners and breaching ethics? How are the rules of reporting being rewritten by risk?

The event will be led by Richard Pendry of the University of Kent’s Centre for Journalism. While at Frontline News Television, he worked in Chechnya and across the former Soviet Union as well as Afghanistan and the Congo. He will show his film “A Strange Animal”, which focuses on the risks and rewards of adapting traditional models of news gathering. It follows local reporters in Falluja and Baghdad and looks at the phenomenon of “sub-contracting” news gathering, where local reporters pass on stories one to another when conditions are dangerous.


Aamer Ahmed Khan, head of the BBC Urdu Service, has been in journalism for 25 years. He worked for the English daily newspaper The Nation in Lahore, joined the launch team of Pakistan’s first English language weekly The Friday Times as its News Editor and was special correspondent for Pakistan’s premier political magazine The Herald.  He has worked with local people in Pakistan’s Tribal areas to identify the victims of US drone strikes.

Amie Ferris-Rotman, a Reuters correspondent in Kabul. She was previously a reporter in Moscow, working across the former Soviet Union covering pipeline politics, foreign policy and running stringers  reporting on the Islamist insurgency in Russia’s North Caucasus.

Callum Macrae, the producer/director behind Channel 4’s multi-award winning “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”. Using mobile phone footage and other video footage from non-professional sources the film revealed the shocking truth behind the final operation against Tamil Tigers and the civilians trapped with them. The film led David Cameron to call on the UN to investigate the war crimes apparently revealed in the film. He has made films for the BBC, Channel 4, Al Jazeera and PBS and has reported and directed from around the world including Iraq, Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Cameroon and Ivory Coast.

Neil Arun, international editor who has produced a range of investigative stories during his time in Iraq, working with a bureau of local journalists. His own reporting from the country has been published by Vanity Fair and the Financial Times Weekend magazine. He also spent five years with the BBC, and has reported from the Balkans, Caucasus and Pakistan.