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Eamonn Matthews on the pursuit of truth in journalism and Unreported World

Eamonn Matthews, the critically acclaimed producer and programme maker, spoke of his pursuit for truth in journalism and his own risky investigative style of programme making at an industry event last night.

Following a selection of recent documentary film snippets which covered witch hunts in Papua New Guinea, honour killings in Turkey and the harsh realities of India’s coalmines, Matthews explained how his Channel 4 series Unreported World attempts to uncover the truth of a situation from people who are directly affected by it:

“We are trying to give a voice to the millions who don’t have one (…) We don’t want experts who say this [certain things] about the situation; we’re not interested in politicians’ filtered down view on what’s going on,” he said.

Truth is always the focus, because there is too much opinion in journalism, he added. Although it has its place, opinion doesn’t give a real insight into the situation, he said.

Matthews stressed the simplicity in the production of his programmes: a two-person team and a basic video camera produce the films. It’s this method that creates the style of unreported world: “You’re experiencing what the reporter is experiencing (…) we’re not trying to massage reality.”

Matthews explained how he adopted his style of documentary making, expressing how often the most interesting part of a story can be completely ignored: “The journey can be more revealing than the arrival.”

Journalists such as Charles Wheeler and Jon Snow had inspired him, he said, and his own time at the BBC producing current affairs programmes had also given him experience.

The talk was underlined by the risky nature of the programmes and the dangers that each reporter faces whilst filming.

“The only way to get rid of risk completely is to never leave the office,” he said.