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Letter from the editor: Frontline reporting

Sky’s Alex Crawford is deservedly winning many plaudits for her live on-the-spot reporting of the Libyan rebels’ triumphant march into the heart of Tripoli on Sunday night.

In doing so, she (and lest we forget, her team) scooped all Sky’s major rivals with her satellite footage. News-channel surfing into the wee small hours, as I did, it was clear how far behind both the BBC, who had a reporter trapped in the Rixos hotel, and the lamentable CNN, were lagging. As an aside, the English-language al-Jazeera station also continues to impress.

But, where the television coverage slightly jars, it’s in its need to talk to whatever pictures the station itself has. In Sky’s case, at least it had some footage to re-run endlessly, poor old CNN was forced to admit it could not confirm the rebels were in Green Square, several hours after we had already seen they were on Sky. Clearly, news channels are as loath to give any credit to deserving rivals, as – say – newspapers are.

I would say this wouldn’t I, but after the few minutes of footage follows the inevitable hours of filler, with presenter talking to reporter and fellow presenter ad nauseam, the viewer soon craves a wider, deeper perspective — which is where newspapers like i and our sister paper, The Independent, come in.

In today’s paper you will find Kim Sengupta’s frontline reporting, a detailed map of what’s happening where in Tripoli, a guide to both new and old regimes, and analysis from veteran correspondents Robert Fisk and Patrick Cockburn — all in five pages of news and comment.

Kim deserves another special mention for his excellent, not to mention, brave reporting. These are extraordinary times, unimaginable as recently as last Christmas. Who knows what today will bring?

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