News World Conference Offered Impressive Debate on Media Coverage of War in Iraq
(Banff, Canada, October 24, 2003)
News World International, the world's premier annual independent news forum of the international broadcast community, wrapped up yesterday in Dublin, Ireland after an invigorating three days of discussion, debate and examination on the media coverage of the war in Iraq. News journalists, correspondents, editors, technicians and other industry stakeholders from around the world gathered at the Burlington Hotel to take part in talks on this and other hot topics in the news industry, including the controversy surrounding embedded journalists.
Highlights of the conference included the Keynote Address presented by Stewart Purvis, Professor of Television Journalism at City University London, former Chief Executive ITN and former Managing Director EuroNews. His speech examined the variances in media coverage on the war specifically America's versus the rest of the world. He referred to the "Fox News Effect" having "shaken the nerve of the other networks" with its patriotic coverage. "Broadcasters are rightly proud of their people; men and women, journalists and technicians, alive and dead. They're proud of the coverage and they stand behind it, but some are also uneasy, concerned and angry about the issues this war created." Mr. Purvis' complete speech can be found on the News World Web Site at http://banffmedia.com/newsworld/index.php.
The Keynote was followed by the "News World Inquiry", which included an examination of survey results from the Independent Television Commission on viewers' attitudes on the television coverage of the war. Results indicated that viewership, specifically in the U.K., of broadcast news programs and channels had significantly increased during the Iraq War, however it went on to show that nearly two-thirds of viewers felt channels attributed too much time to war coverage.
Opening day ended with a special presentation of the News World Lifetime Achievement Award to celebrated news anchor Walter Cronkite via live satellite from New York. Making the presentation was Canadian Consul General, Pamela Wallin. Following the award ceremony, Mr. Cronkite spoke to delegates and answered questions from the Dublin conference. He commented on the American media coverage of the war by its embedded journalists. "The temptation to use the word 'we' is almost inescapable. When you as a correspondent are down there in the foxholes with the troops you are part of the operation. You can't help that. It was the same thing in World War II, the same thing in Vietnam and the same thing in Korea."
Ibrahim Helal, Editor-in-Chief of the Al-Jazeera network, took part in Wednesday's session "Al Jazeera
From the Inside" expressing his concern that the network was often criticized as being a propaganda tool. "We don't want to become the fanatics' channel," he commented. "What we have done during the war which is different to the western networks was (to broadcast) those graphic scenes. I admit that. But it's part of the reality of war. We don't interfere with the story, and put ourselves between the news and the viewers."
Additional highlights of the conference included discussion and demonstration of new technology that enabled journalists in Iraq to produce live war coverage. David Chater, Sky News Correspondent talked about his experiences using digital microwave link technology and the freedom it provided him. He went on to say that "there are dangers with this new technology. I was thinking about feeding this material to London live on air, and not thinking about my safety."
The Mo Amin Award for Outstanding Achievement, which is presented annually at News World, was not awarded this year but instead, the £1,000 prize was donated to the Mohamed Amin Foundation in recognition of all journalists who risked their lives in Iraq.
News World International is managed by Banff Media Enterprises, a division of the Banff Television Foundation, the internationally recognized organizer and presenter of high quality electronic media events. Next year's conference is scheduled for October. Stay tuned to the News World web site at banffmedia.com/newsworld for more details and exciting news on the 2004 conference.
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