St Bride's Annual Journalists' Service - In the Eye of the Storm

St Bride's: News

In the Eye of the Storm

In the Eye of the Storm

Feisal Omar, a Reuters photographer, courtesy of VOA

Download Order of Service (pdf)

On Tuesday 21st November, 2017, at 6:30pm a service was held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street in the presence of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to commemorate all those in the media industry whose mission to bring us the news faces peril and uncertainty and sometimes, tragically, demands the ultimate price.

Review of Service by Joe Bray, Guild Journalism Bursary Scholar 2017

INTRODUCTION

As consumers of news in a fast-changing world, we demand a great deal of our journalists and foreign correspondents.

We expect them to keep us informed about difficult and complex situations in the trouble spots of the world, often at great personal risk, and sometimes, tragically, they pay the ultimate price.

So it is important that, as representatives of the media industry and the public life of this nation, we honour their memory in this service and remind ourselves of the sacrifice they make in order to bring us the truth.

WELCOME & OPENING PRAYER

The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce, Rector of St Bride's:-

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A very warm welcome to St Bride's.

On Monday 16th October I was in Malta attending a conference. It was the day on which the Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb explosion. That evening I spent time with a woman who knew her, who said this: 'Daphne was fearless. Even though she received repeated death threats, she continued to expose corruption and call the powerful to account.'

Daphne Caruana Galizia was unafraid of being in the eye of the storm. Indeed, she was unafraid of generating the storm itself. At our service this evening we honour the memory, and commemorate the lives of journalists who, like her, remind us of why journalism matters. We remember those who have lost their lives as a consequence of their work; those whose lives have been cut short by illness or accident; as well as those who have died full of years. We honour writers, reporters, photographers, camera-crew, and their support staff. And we also hold in our prayers those who are currently held captive; and all whose professional work puts them in situations of personal danger, as we honour all that is best in the profession.

Almighty Father,
in whose perfect realm
no sword is drawn but the sword of justice,
and no strength known but the strength of love:
guide and protect all who seek to bear witness
to the truth of your troubled world;
all who seek to give a voice to the voiceless,
and to tell stories that would otherwise remain untold.
We remember especially this day all members of this profession
who have died, or whose fate is unknown
that you may bless their work,
and strengthen and sustain those who love them.
In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

ADDRESSES

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Listen to Address: 

Sam Kiley, Foreign Affairs Editor, Sky News

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Well there’s an old cliché that says that there are no atheists in a foxhole; let me tell you, there are no atheists, or there certainly wasn’t one in the pub just round the corner when I was preparing to come to make this address.

There is possibly nowhere more frightening that I’ve ever been than the environment in which, not only am I speaking about people whom I loved and admired and who are no longer with us, but people I either work for, want to work for and who sign my expenses.  So under those circumstances it feels almost embarrassing really to be asked to make this extraordinary address when I’m not really known, Your Royal Highness, for my gravitas.  I’m more known, if I’m being entirely honest, for not propping up, but sliding down, the bar of the American Colony in Jerusalem and trying to persuade my American Colony friends from the American press not to take themselves too seriously.  

But the seriousness of our job was kind of completely undermined for me when I was going to Afghanistan to write a book, and I was going to be embedded for six months in 2008 in Helmand with 16 Air Assault Brigade.  And I thought, as so many of us do, when we go on these adventures, that I might not come back and my son, who was 11, I thought should be sat down and given ‘the talk’. 

I said, “Finn, you know, I’m going off to Helmand and it’s all pretty tricky and there have been quite a few casualties among the British and of course the Afghans too.  But I’m going to be safe, I’m going to be surrounded by professional soldiers and I’ll be absolutely fine.  I’ll do absolutely everything I can to come back in one piece.”  And he said, “Are you going to carry a rifle?” And I said, “Well, no, journalists don’t carry guns,” and he goes, “Well that’s not very impressive, is it?”  And it somewhat undermined my sense of purpose, my sense of mission and, let’s face it, a lot of us in this job shy away from admitting what it is that really motivates us. 

I always like to say it’s the opportunity to, you know - well, when I’m in a church - being where history is happening, for example, or being among my friends who I admire so much.  Other times one might admit to just go and drink heavily on expenses at the end of having a jolly good adventure.  But ultimately that isn’t really what motivates us, not even when we’re making the gag reflex, comedy moment when somebody says, rather unwisely perhaps, at a bar, “My job is to shine a light into the dark corners of the world,” or, “I want to give a voice to the voiceless,” or when the French photographer leans in on the pretty young intern and says, “You don’t know what I have seen.” 

These are the moments when we snigger and we laugh, but actually we really wouldn’t do this if like, somebody like Mick Deane wouldn’t do it, my dear friend who was killed when we were covering the massacre at Rabaa, a massacre conducted by a government that has now supported, to some extent, by Western governments, that massacred a peaceful thousand people, shooting into a crowd, that literally chose to ‘shoot the messenger’, that messenger was Mick Deane, cut down at the age of 62 shortly before his retirement.  Mick, who was not, by the way, religious, but was probably the most Christian man in my understanding of what it is to be a Christian, a most moral man, a man who spread kindness and good heart around everybody wherever he went and who really did believe that there was some kind of mission beyond the superficial nonsense that I’ve been referring to with regards to myself.  The mission really is to try to make the world a better place and you can only do that if you do shine the light into those dark corners or give a voice to the voiceless, no matter how embarrassing idiots like me might find those expressions. 

And when I was last here, it was for the memorial for Richard Beeston, my absolute dearest friend, and I’m in the company of many people, perhaps some people even in this church here at St Bride’s tonight, who would  consider Richard Beeston their best friend, he was that kind of a man.  Now he wasn’t killed covering conflict but he was a man who would happily have given his life in the pursuit not only of a great story, but a story that could have changed things, that could have changed things for the better.  We don’t always get that right, I know that in covering Rwanda, for example, I gave everything I could and nobody would call it a genocide, and that relieved them of any kind of, in the international community, of intervention.  We now have distinguished journalists covering the plight of the Rohingya and again the international community refusing to call it by its name, because that of course requires international intervention.  

So we don’t always change the world but there is a hope that we might do so.  But who are we doing it for?  When I was here for Richard Beeston’s memorial I was asked to read the Beatitudes.  Now, I’m not reading from a script because, as my colleagues here at Sky News will tell you, I don’t have the concentration to even deal with auto... I was going to call it Auto Trader… what is it called… autocue.  My mind wanders and I get terrified.  And so when I was here, I was asked to read the Beatitudes.  I was actually taught the Beatitudes off by heart by a defrocked Catholic priest paratrooper, who battered them into us.  I should say he was defrocked not for anything other than beating up other soldiers, but nonetheless I read the Beatitudes and I shook like crazy through it.

Now I’m gripping this lectern, I’m going to have another go, because at Richard’s funeral, rather, memorial, I actually forgot to read one of them.  I was so nervous and so anxious to get away from this very position and back to those very pews that I left one off.  But there is a reason why I’m going to do this, not just because I like to get it right - we’re never wrong for long at Sky News - but because there is something I think very important in these words that perhaps informs that which we do:

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted; blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth; blessed are they which do hunger and search after righteousness for they shall be filled; blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy; blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

Well, not in this world, they’re not.  Not with our help.  Can you think of a more benighted group of people than the poor in spirit?  Mourners?  The meek?  The righteous?  The merciful?  The pure in heart?  Peacemakers?  These are not people who are going to get anything, not even as Mr Getty said, the meek are not going to inherit the earth, nor the mineral rights.  In fact they’re going to get hammered.  All of those people in this day and age and for millennia have been right royally thumped by history.  And since the 21st Century, since that wonderful reading from Russell, those of us in the journalistic community have perhaps been able to believe that we can offer an opportunity by exposing the abuse of the poor in spirit, mourners, meek, the righteous, the merciful, by exposing that which was being done to them to the cold light of factual analysis, that we might change things, that in a democracy if you get the truth out there you can make things better; you can also have a terrific adventure along the way and drink on expenses.  But you do want to make things better.

Hope.

I was on, I love being able to say this, I was on the banks of the lower Lualaba River, which is around the bend in the river in the Congo.  It was in 1995, the Rwandan genocide had happened almost exactly a year before, and now the killers, the Interahamwe, the ‘genocidaires’ as they were called, were being pursued across through the Congo jungles by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the Tutsi armies, that blew open the refugee camps where these killers were being harboured and chased them across the Congo.

And I turned up in this village completely by accident; it was a village that had not had any contact with the outside world for more than a decade.  And I flew in on some kind of aid flight, I forget why, and I wandered into the village and I knew these killers were coming through the jungle.  And I was greeted by a bunch of 12 year old kids who spoke completely fluent English and then, their teacher, in ragged shorts and a tee shirt, came up to me and he said, “May I introduce myself?” And he gave me his name and I said, “Awfully nice to meet you,” and we began an interview about the forthcoming horrors that were likely to be visited upon them and how they were going to cope and what they were going to do, and a little bit into this conversation I said, “You speak extraordinarily good English,” and he said, “Yes, I taught it to myself,” in an accent rather posher than mine.  I said, “What do you mean?”  He’d already told me that he hadn’t had a transistor radio for a decade, for fifteen years they’d had no pay from central government, yet he was teaching because he was being paid in kind by people who wanted their children to be taught. And I said, “Well, why have you taught them..?  How have you taught them.. English?”  And he said, “Well, I taught myself first.”  “How?   You’ve got no transistor radios.”  “Oh well, I rigged up a radio to the dynamo on my bicycle and whilst riding my bicycle I powered the radio and then I picked up the BBC World Service and I learned English from it.  The BBC used to have an English course.  And then I learned all about the world from the BBC and the BBC World Service.” - and this was, by the way, one of the better-informed people I have ever met. 

He had nothing much to do other than cycle his cycle and listen to the radio.  Then he passed this on to his 30 children.  I met 30, perhaps there were more, all of whom at the age of 12 were speaking pretty fluent English.  I said, “You’re in the middle of the Congo, you’ve had no contact with the outside world for a decade.  Why on earth would you teach them a language that is spoken by people thousands of miles away?”  And he looked at me as though I was completely mad.  And he said, “For hope.  For their jobs.  For their futures.”  Now, I nearly fell apart at that point.  My veneer as the macho war correspondent, not good at any time, was completely on the floor.  But that’s the point.  He had hope, sufficient hope to endow his charges, his children, the people who represented a future for his country with sufficient passion and joy at what the future would hold for them that he was doing this extraordinary thing on his bicycle, powering his radio and teaching them English.

But you know what, in domestic, rather, in foreign corresponding, and it is foreign correspondents by and large who are being memorialised here, although not all, and I am delighted that we’re simply paying tribute to those of our kind.  I’m not proud of myself, but I am proud of walking alongside so many of my fantastic colleagues, be they war correspondents or ordinary regular correspondents, domestic correspondents, whoever they may be.  But as the Chinese curse says, ‘we are living in interesting times.’  We are living in a time when, I believe, democracy is under intense pressure, and it’s under intense pressure from lies, it’s under intense pressure from the promulgation of lies through social media, it’s under pressure from the kind of mob rule that social media makes room for and allows, foments and energizes.  It doesn’t seem to matter anymore that many of the creatures on Twitter, and I use the term advisedly, are either nutters or robots in their tens of thousands.  We’ve seen the American elections severely undermined by the use of social media; we’ve seen, perhaps, there are investigations now, rather late in the day into the Brexit vote, who knows what else is going on? 

But we are under pressure.  Telling the truth, checking the facts, not being first but being right, I won’t say has never been more important, but right now it is extremely important.  As the Washington Post say, ‘Democracy dies in darkness’, and that darkness can only be enlightened by the telling of the truth.  Now I’m afraid there will be people in this room who may take offence at what I’m about to say.  Calling judges enemies of the people, undermining the notion of an independent judiciary in a fully functional democracy, are you kidding me?  Are you kidding me?  Do you know what countries, where that has happened, look like?  I’ll tell you what they look like, they look like Somalia, they look like Syria, they look like the Yemen, they look like Russia under Putin. They do not look like this country.  Those sorts of attacks, never mind the casual racism drawing a direct line between immigration and terrorism and crime, these are not the sorts of things and the sorts of stories and the sorts of assertions and distortions of truth that the people we honour here today would have any part of or would ever go anywhere near.  And in the context of mass dissemination of abject lies, it’s that much more important to us all, for the sake of our democracy and for the sake of our future, that we snuff that stuff out.  That we don’t do it, that we take our time, we check our facts.  It doesn’t mean you have to take an entire view from the liberal elite; it doesn’t mean that you sneeringly suggest that anybody who voted Brexit is a bigot and an anti-immigrant; it doesn’t mean that you don’t explore the different economic theories available that have left so many people behind with the widening wealth gap; but it does mean that you don’t lie and you do not knowingly distort truth, because if you do that, you dishonour the people honoured here, you dishonour our profession and you poison our democracy.


READINGS

Scheherazade Daneshkhu, Consumer Industries Editor, Financial Times read Ecclesiasticus 44: 1–15

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Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.

The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning.

Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies: Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions:

Such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing:

Rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations:

All these were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of their
times.

There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises
might be reported.

And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born; and their children after them.

But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten.

With their seed shall continually remain a good inheritance, and their children are within the covenant.

Their seed standeth fast, and their children for their sakes.

Their seed shall remain for ever, and their glory shall not be blotted out.

Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore.

The people will tell of their wisdom, and the congregation will shew forth their praise.

Caroline Wyatt, BBC News Broadcaster read St Bride's by Jo Shapcott

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There is a tower of the winds as tall
as this one in another city, a steeple
filled with fire by the incendiary raids
of a coalition of the unwilling. Nocturnal
shocks pound the citizens who survive,
blast them out of their beds into the streets,
children bundled under their arms. The gutters flame.
Dust is alight.

I was born in a city to come and go safely through the boroughs,
carrying inside me every morning's news: pictures
of soldiers in places they didn't want
to understand, made to fight for loose change,
for the hell of it, for a can of oil. I live here,
but the smell of print and ashes is in my nose.

Peter Willis, Editor, Daily Mirror read The Charge of the Light Brigade by William Howard Russell

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This November 14, 1854 dispatch in the Times, written by William Howard Russell from the front of the Crimean War, later led Alfred Tennyson to compose the famous poem of the same name, The Charge of the Light Brigade.

SEBASTOPOL, OCTOBER 25

If the exhibition of the most brilliant valour, of the excess of courage, and of a daring which would have reflected lustre on the best days of chivalry can afford full consolation for the disaster of today, we can have no reason to regret the melancholy loss which we sustained in a contest with a savage and barbarian enemy.

I shall proceed to describe, to the best of my power, what occurred under my own eyes, and to state the facts which I have heard from men whose veracity is unimpeachible, reserving to myself the right of private judgement in making public and in surpressing the details of what occurred on this memorable day...

At 11:00 our Light Cavalry Brigade rushed to the front... The Russians opened on them with guns from the redoubts on the right, with volleys of musketry and rifles.

They swept proudly past, glittering in the morning sun in all the pride and splendour of war. We could hardly believe the evidence of our senses. Surely that handful of men were not going to charge an army in position? Alas! It was but too true -- their desperate valour knew no bounds, and far indeed was it removed from its so-called better part -- discretion. They advanced in two lines, quickening the pace as they closed towards the enemy. A more fearful spectacle was never witnessed than by those who, without the power to aid, beheld their heroic countrymen rushing to the arms of sudden death. At the distance of 1200 yards the whole line of the enemy belched forth, from thirty iron mouths, a flood of smoke and flame through which hissed the deadly balls. Their flight was marked by instant gaps in our ranks, the dead men and horses, by steeds flying wounded or riderless across the plain. The first line was broken -- it was joined by the second, they never halted or checked their speed an instant. With diminished ranks, thinned by those thirty guns, which the Russians had laid with the most deadly accuracy, with a halo of flashing steel above their heads, and with a cheer which was many a noble fellow's death cry, they flew into the smoke of the batteries; but ere they were lost from view, the plain was strewed with their bodies and with the carcasses of horses. They were exposed to an oblique fire from the batteries on the hills on both sides, as well as to a direct fire of musketry.

Through the clouds of smoke we could see their sabres flashing as they rode up to the guns and dashed between them, cutting down the gunners as they stood. The blaze of their steel, like an officer standing near me said, "was like the turn of a shoal of mackerel." We saw them riding through the guns, as I have said; to our delight, we saw them returning, after breaking through a column of Russian infantry and scattering them like chaff, when the flank fire of the battery on the hill swept them down, scattered and broken as they were. Wounded men and dismounted troopers flying towards us told the sad tale -- demigods could not have done what they had failed to do. At the very moment when they were about to retreat, a regiment of lancers was hurled upon their flank. Colonel Shewell, of the 8th Hussars, saw the danger and rode his men straight at them, cutting his way through with fearful loss. The other regiments turned and engaged in a desperate encounter. With courage too great almost for credence, they were breaking their way through the columns which enveloped them, where there took place an act of atrocity without parallel in modern warfare of civilized nations. The Russian gunners, when the storm of cavalry passed, returned to their guns. They saw their own cavalry mingled with the troopers who had just ridden over them, and to the eternal disgrace of the Russian name, the miscreants poured a murderous volley of grape and canister on the mass of struggling men and horses, mingling friend and foe in one common ruin. It was as much as our Heavy Cavalry Brigade could do to cover the retreat of the miserable remnants of that band of heroes as they returned to the place they had so lately quitted in all the pride of life.

At 11:35 not a British soldier, except the dead and dying, was left in front of those bloody Muscovite guns...

MUSIC

journalists 2017.JPGThe choir & organist of St Bride's performed the following anthems and songs:-

I wait for thy loving kindness - McKie

He ain't heavy - Russell/Scott, arr. Robert Jones

And I saw a new heaven - Bainton

Justorum animae - Lassus

Hymns:

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

Lord Of All Hopefulness

Thine Be The Glory

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