Dublin - November 19-21


News World 2002 - Day Two:

Day One - Day Two - Day Three - Other News


News organisations that lack resources to train journalists to work in hostile environments should quit the news business “and hand over to those that really care for their staff”.

That was the hard-hitting message from Chris Cramer, president of CNN International Networks, as he introduced the News World 2002 session on reporting in conflict zones.

Cramer said 2002 had been “a terrible and tragic year for our profession”. Thirteen journalists had been killed so far this year; 74 had lost their lives since 2000, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“What is certain, whether we like it or not, is that for some people we have become legitimate targets,” said Cramer.

“They no longer recognise us as special, don’t understand what we stand for and have no respect for our honourable craft. They often think we are representatives of the governments of the countries we come from.”

While CNN and other major news organisations had training programmes in place, and were now training staff ahead of a looming war in Iraq, Cramer said some organisations refused to divulge their training policies on the spurious grounds that to do so might endanger journalists’ lives.

“It’s code for having nothing in place,” stormed Cramer. “And code for saying ‘I wish you hadn’t asked me’.”

Delegates were taken through detailed investigations into the killings of two BBC staffers in war zones. Tony Loughran, world safety manager at BBC News, said the investigations had presented important lessons from which journalists could learn.

Later delegates tackled the issue of financial news reporting and considered why business journalism had failed to unearth scandals such as Enron. Bronwyn Curtis, managing editor at Bloomberg UK, said she had looked back at the agency’s reporting of Enron before the scandal broke. While the agency’s copy had raised questions, it had not gone further. “We should have known, but we just weren’t looking,” said Curtis.

From the floor, Rob Beynon, managing director of DMA Media, and a former financial news editor, questioned whether we might have seen the end of consumer-facing business channels. “I suspect that viewers have left them in droves,” he said.

While Richard Sambrook, director of news at the BBC, predicted financial news coverage would change its focus, “away from the professional business community towards more consumer personal finance”.