Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

Jon Sopel with students

BBC correspondent and broadcaster Jon Sopel trekked all the way to Harrow for the benefit of students at the University of Westminster.

My class was lucky enought to have the insightful and dynamic political broadcaster discussing his career highs and lows for a full hour this evening.

With stories like you wouldn’t believe he entertained us and imparted some much appreciated advice.

‘There are jobs that will be better paid’ – Jon Sopel

I do not think for one second that any of the trainee journalists on my course, or in fact on the undergraduate pathway, have illusions of sizeable pay checks at the end of our year of study.

It was good to hear it voiced by someone who would actually know.

When he posed himself the question ‘would you change it if you could do it all again?

The response was reassuringly, ‘not a chance.’

This is the kind of speaker that you want to listen to.

The Stories

Over his career he has covered the Tsunami in Thailand, Hurricane Katrina and the hunt for Raoul Moat.

He has interviewed Gordon Brown, current PM David Cameron, David Beckham and Heather Mills.

And yet he also openly admitted his ‘blind terror’ during air raids in Kuwait City and his panicked fumbling to get a gas mask on in seven seconds.

A story that stuck in my mind was his shocking introduction to the darker side to the old adage of ‘getting stuck in’.

The Lockerbie Diaster

In 1988 as a young reporter he was asked to cover the Lockerbie bombing in Scotland.

Upon arrival in the small village, amongst a hoard of other reporters, he saw an opportunity and started chatting to a chinook helicopter crew member.

He secured a flight with helicopter but failed to ask for details about the excursion and found himself on mission to recover bagged bodies and air-lift them away from the site.

The experience stayed with him as a particularly shocking and unsettling time;

‘That Christmas was hard,’

he warned young, eager journalists;

‘So brace yourself for that’.

‘My Job is Not to Keep Secrets’

On his position as presenter of the BBC’s Politics Show Sopel spoke easily.

He told us to be confident in our approach to interviewing and to always be fully prepared;

‘You are looking for a story, you aren’t trying to impose your views.’

Identifying and pursuing newsworthy lines in a polite and persistent manner is key according to Sopel.

He was completely different to the man described in reviews.

Then again the reviewers hadn’t even spelt his name correctly so are probably not the most reliable of sources.

Overall he was honest and got us thinking about the questions that we really do need to address before we embark on our journalistic careers.

Can you deal with the often horrific realities and images that a journalist will have to encounter?

Are you going to ask the questions that need to be asked?


What is the journalists role in times of extreme need? Is it to continue to report and maintain objectivity or to get involved and try to help?


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Labadee, Haiti


Haiti, one-time luxury idyll plagued by sunshine and tourists now in disarray after it’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake earlier this year.

Fast-forward to the present and make-shift camps where the damages were worst are threatened by armed gangs indicating that the countries troubles are far from over.

The 12th january saw the Caribbean island devastated with the epicentre of the quake just a few miles shy of the capital Port-au-Prince.

The National Palace was destroyed, the second story of the building completely collapsed; the BBC reported that a large number of UN personnel were missing and front-line emergency services suffered great loses.

One of the largest referral hospitals in Jacmel, the St. Michel District Hospital, was also brought to the ground.

Breath-taking scenery in northern Haiti

These beautiful images show the northern landscape of Labadee, an exclusive stretch of beach that is leased by cruise company Royal Caribbean. The photographs were taken at the end of December 2009, just weeks before the natural disaster devastated the country.


Labadee, Haiti


Holiday-makers having fun in the sun while locals deal with the diaster

The area was not hit as hard as it sits on the northern most tip of the island. Royal Caribbean sparked outrage with their decision to continue docking at Haiti. Consequently passengers were allowed to vacation on the beach in paradise whilst such extreme poverty was just sixty miles away.

Speaking to Steve Inskeep of NPR the CEO of Royal Caribbean explained the companies decision to return to Haiti.

On their decision to go back Adam Goldstein stated;

‘We actually felt it was a pretty easy decision once we realized that the physical site at our property at Labadee was unaffected by the earthquake, and second, after the Haitian government made it clear that they wanted to continue to have our ships visit, both for the economic benefit that they normally bring, as well as the humanitarian aspect of delivering relief supplies. It was a no-brainer.’

He later reported that the company are one of the countries largest foreign investors spending $50 million on the property.

Some holiday-makers were ‘sickened’

The Guardian reported that many passengers on the first ships to return to the island after the quake stayed on board;

“I just can’t see myself sunning on the beach, playing in the water, eating a barbecue, and enjoying a cocktail while [in Port-au-Prince] there are tens of thousands of dead people being piled up on the streets, with the survivors stunned and looking for food and water,” wrote a passenger on the Cruise Critic internet forum.


Labadee's Port


Rape updates in Twitter status’

Roll on to October and the country receives a flush of new media attention after American journalist Mac McClelland uses twitter as a platform to publicise the rise of sexual violence against women and children living in Haiti’s refugee camps.

The reporter arrived in Port-au-Prince and was shocked by what she  found. She tells Grazia,

‘Gangs prowl the refugee camps – home to hundreds of thousands…kidnapping girls as young as five, raping and leaving them with horrific injuries.’

Much to her surprise Mac McClelland’s inbox filled up with hate-mail about her journalistic ethics. Was she sensationalising a story on twitter to get a reaction?

McClleland insists it was the only way she felt she could draw attention to the horrors continuing in Haiti as the world’s attention was drawn elsewhere. She defends what she did.

Sarah Menkedick who writes for the internet site Women’s Rights was not convinced;

‘I have to agree with those who bristle at McClelland’s decision. I know we live in an age in which few moments can be spared the spectacle of their presentation on social networks, but there are certain deeply traumatic and serious issues — rape being one — which do not belong in tweet status updates.’


Zip-wire lines in Haiti


The UN are launching an anti-rape campaign in Haiti to help protect the estimated 1.3 million homeless and vulnerable women and children.

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