"Despatches from the Front" - St Bride's: Reflection

St Bride's: Sermons

"Despatches from the Front"

"Important despatches are expected from Gibraltar when the wind changes." So ran a typical extract from the Morning Post in the late eighteenth century. When reports from far-off places were dependent on the vagaries of wind and weather, news could take many weeks to reach home.

Today with satellite technology we can see and hear news of events as they unfold before our eyes. And so foreign correspondents have to be on the spot, embedded in the midst of the action on which they are reporting. When that action is all-out war against Iraq, the risks are great, the discomfort intense and the timetable unpredictable, even though these chroniclers of conflict live on adrenalin and the buzz that comes from being in the thick of things.

It sounds to the outsider to be a glamorous job - that of a journalist or correspondent reporting on the war. In fact it is stressful, lonely, terrifying and exhausting, as well as exciting. It is also, in the conditions of today's warfare, extremely risky and dangerous. A number of journalists have already lost their lives, and others have been wounded or gone missing. Gaby Rado and Terry Lloyd, who have recently died, are the latest in a long line of journalists killed covering wars. At St. Bride's we have held memorial services for a number of then, including Dan Eldon, John Schofield, Kerem Lawton and Daniel Pearl. Here they are remembered, and remembered with pride.

Journalists don't always receive the honour due to then for the heroic risks they take so that we, thousands of miles away, can have some understanding of and insight into what is going on at the front line. Occasionally this commitment costs a journalist their life: Often they have to bear the private burden of the trauma of having witnessed things of which it is too terrible to speak. They continue to do so, not just because it is a job of work but because they feel a commitment to telling things as they are, and to sharing the stories of those who might not otherwise have a voice.

Journalists sometimes feel isolated and misunderstood. But we need their ability to report and interpret if we are to be able to make up our own minds about the events that take place, some of which are done in our name, in far flung places across the world. They need our understanding, they deserve our respect, and they value our thoughts and prayers. Journalists are remembered in prayer every day here at St Bride's, but would value your prayers too - for courage, integrity, fairness, and for a safe return home to family, friends and colleagues.

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