Letter From the Editor: It's tough, but not as tough as reporting from a war zone

 

Share
Related Topics

This was one of those weeks when, as Editor, I freely, but nonetheless uncomfortably, admit to being a hypocrite.

As the situation in Mali worsened, I was badgering Jon Bowd, our Foreign Editor, as to who we had there, reporting on the ground. It's not a part of the world blessed with Western-oriented journalists, so the answer, not surprisingly, was, "no one".

I asked whether Kim Sengupta, our foreign "fireman", was free. It turned out that Kim, freshly back from another war zone, Syria, was available and could go. "Great," I replied, without hesitating, "send him to Mali".

I quickly added: "Make sure he knows not to do anything too dangerous." Madness, really. There I was, making a trip to Mali sound like a day out at a theme park.

The journalist in me wanted coverage from the war-torn African country – the more graphic accounts of the fighting and suffering, the better. But having committed to dispatching Kim to one of the most risky places on Earth, I felt the need to somehow absolve myself with a comment about his security. The truth, though, which we don't like to admit, is that the welfare of the reporter is not our only concern. If it was, Kim would remain in the comfort of the office, cutting and pasting pieces of wire copy.

It's not a one-way process. In my many years of knowing Kim – we go back to long before I became Editor – I've never been aware of him turning down an assignment because it was too perilous. Neither is it the case that he is made to go, that he can't say no otherwise his job would be at risk. Indeed, often, the suggestion to visit a war zone is his and his alone.

For Kim, read Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Andy Buncombe... The list of our correspondents prepared to head off into hazardous territory is a lengthy one.

Not just abroad, either. In London during the last set of riots, our reporters ventured forth, willing to get as close as they could to the violence and looting, without much thought for their own safety. (In fact, they should have been concerned, as the looters turned on television crews.)

We've had journalists shot (Buncombe in Thailand) and nearly stoned to death (Fisk in Pakistan). And who can forget the courage of the late Marie Colvin from The Sunday Times?

We try to ensure they have the best kit possible, that they contact us regularly, and travel with local fixers and other journalists. We do what we can to protect them. But after that, they're on their own. All we can do is worry.

So, while we struggle with the snow this weekend I'll also be wondering about our man in Mali. I know I sent him there, but it doesn't stop me from wishing: safe journey home, Kim.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there