St Bride's: News

Review of Journalists' Commemorative Service "Lest we Forget"

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Tools of the journalist's trade

A service of commemoration is an odd beast. It tries to remember those we have lost in two very different ways: a sorrowful remembering, and a celebratory remembering. The latter perhaps feels a little out of place at times - disrespectful, even - but it should not. It is just as important as the solemn and sombre form of remembrance, if not more so.

This is particularly true in journalism; an industry which, perhaps justifiably, feels more than a little under siege right now. Seemingly never-ending belt-tightening, the threat of statutory regulation, increasing public hostility towards the media, the Internet and its ever-moving goalposts - the list goes on.

Listen to Sarah Sands' Address:

As Sarah Sands reminded us when she addressed the service of commemoration at St Bride's last Wednesday, that list of challenges takes on an even gloomier aspect when we take into account the physical risks that many journalists encounter while simply doing their jobs. In Iraq and Syria, intrepid foreign correspondents risk abduction, imprisonment, torture and death every day to ensure that we have the latest news from Mosul and Aleppo in our morning papers. That level of risk is pretty daunting, to say the least.

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Candles were lit for those who have lost their lives, who are missing or held captive, or who continue to report at great risk

And yet journalists are still putting themselves in harm's way. It's all the more important, then, that we continue to celebrate the value and virtues of what we do. To borrow an old and thoroughly clichéd analogy, journalism holds a mirror to the world, and whether it's holding the powerful to account amid the political machinations of Westminster, or revealing the reality of the bloodshed in the Middle East, doing so will always retain its value.

Of course, the death of a journalist doing his or her job is deeply tragic, and something to be mourned. Remembering that a colleague lost their life for the worthwhile cause of bringing us the news is vital too, though; not only to justify our own continuing efforts, but also to honour their memory in the best way possible.

Amid all the challenges, then, we should take heart.  Sarah said it particularly well: "The urge to bear witness is strong, and journalism always finds a way." Long may it continue.

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