The address given by ITV News at Ten presenter Mark Austin at St Bride’s Church yesterday (Wednesday), for the service to commemorate journalists who have died while covering conflicts across the world, has been published online.
He opened by talking about his own recent travels with a cameraman to Mogadishu in Somalia, and the “considerable risk” faced. He said the need to resort to protection from armed men “to watch our backs every step of the way” was a cause of “considerable sadness, and in a sense, guilt”.
Sadness, because of what it says about what has happened to our trade. Where once the neutrality and independence of the media was widely recognised and respected, now it’s clear journalists are being specifically targeted or sought out by those who fear the truth emerging. It’s no longer enough to blame the messenger, it seems. Silencing the messenger is all too often the name of the game now. And guilt because of the glaring inequality that now exists in journalism. I can insist on that security in Somalia, I am insured and have the backup of a large organisation with considerable resources and which makes safety a priority. But by and large the journalists we should be thinking about and honouring tonight have no such protection . They are the local reporters and photographers and freelancers in places like Somalia, who put their lives on the line every single day.