Lest we Forget Journalists' Commemorative Service 2016

Lest we forget

9th November, 2016

On Wednesday, 9th November, 2016, at 6:30pm a service was held at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street 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.


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.

The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce delivered the bidding:

Welcome to St Bride’s for our annual service of commemoration, at which we honour the memory and give thanks for the lives of those journalists, camera-crew and support staff who have died, particularly those who have lost their lives during the course of their professional duties.

This is also an occasion on which we remember and hold in our prayers those members of the profession who are currently held captive and all whose work places them in situations of grave risk or personal danger.

In remembering them today we mark their courage, their dedication, and their commitment. And as we celebrate all that is best in investigative journalism, we do so mindful of the fact that our news is sometimes brought to us at terrible cost – a price that is paid by those journalists, and by their families, friends and colleagues.

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.



Sarah Sands, Editor, London Evening Standard

Good evening. It’s been a long day hasn’t it? I am very glad to be here, but I can’t help noticing a lot of journalists are feeling sorry for themselves being stuck in London rather than where the action is in America.

Especially the ones usurped at the last minute by celebrity journalists and current favourites.

Someone mentioned Michael Gove to me today in a kind of howl…Two pages in The Times…Flights, nice hotels, colour pictures of him on the campaign trail.

He’s to be REWARDED?

At the Evening Standard, where we run on tighter budgets, I am impressed by journalists who have made their own way there.

Maybe acting as BBC bag carriers, or they’ve been crowd funding the trip, but they got there.

When the editor of Londoner’s Diary told me she had a party invitation for last night, I hadn’t realised that she meant in New York. Mind you, I was too busy tearing up our pages on the triumph of Femocracies to notice… The urge to bear witness is strong and journalism always finds a way. To the Berlin Wall, to the Balkans…to wherever the action…whatever the danger…whenever the story.

The need to tell the world demands new means: a young woman told me recently that she was surprised and slightly indignant to find her Snapchat feed included a report from Mosul. “Snapchat was set up for sexting,” she said.

But she had read what was happening, and wanted to know more.

All of us here tonight know the secret we are trying to keep from our readers, a problem we don’t like to admit… say it quietly – newspapers are no longer the money-spinner they were. We are financially challenged, a little short…actually, pretty much broke.

And we know too – with so much stuff of dubious provenance flying around the internet – there has never been a greater need for reporting we can trust.

Can we persuade management we need a new foreign bureau? Right now it would be easier to get Theresa May to build that new concert hall in London…or provide a gentlemen’s club for high court judges… perhaps on the Garden Bridge.

But one way or another journalists still find a way to get to where the news is happening… and to report what they have found.

So they may have been invited to Damascus, but that didn’t stop them from going to Aleppo too.

Summon them to talk to the president and they will quiz the citizens in the street as they leave.

Give them an order and they will find a way to disobey it. And that’s before they have even left the office.

Nothing will quench a journalist’s thirst to know. (Nothing, come to that, will quench a journalist’s thirst). Journalists are rude, bloody-minded and egocentric. Goodness, they are egocentric. Cussed, annoying, a real pain in the neck.

They are in it for themselves…and they are in it for us. How we need them.

We have a proud tradition at The Evening Standard, a paper with roots in London and readers with eyes around the world. Here in the capital we are beneficiaries – and I do think we are more often beneficiaries than victims – of diaspora. Here are all the languages of the world, audiences who are eager for the news, people with a belief in the power of a free press.

Too often we take those freedoms for granted. Here the worst we have to fight – and how we do fight –are nuances of press regulation. Not whether a newspaper can print. We need to debate whether a royal charter admits government intervention or a recognition panel invites ministerial overview. Not how to get three editors released from prison.

In Turkey journalists fight for the right to report.

In Hungary – a European nation for heaven’s sake – they fight to tell truths the government finds uncomfortable.

In conflict zones journalists fight to survive, to record what man is doing to man.

All of us ask ourselves from time to time about the job we do, its point, its value, its contribution.

I meet young people who want to be journalists. Some have a sense of our trade– perhaps because they have a relative in the business…yep, that’s their foot in the door, which is why we at the Standard are setting up an apprenticeship scheme to create a level playing field. But several, in this world of instant, superficial fame, see journalism only as a branch of entertainment. They have their sights set on Strictly, Made in Chelsea, or getting out of the jungle. I try to tell them to leave showbusiness to the politicians.

Happily many of this new generation still want to make a difference, whether its exposing the criminal in this country, holding the powerful to account – or travelling, at real risk to themselves, for stories that the world needs to hear.

Anyone who doubts the power of journalism, the good it does, must listen closely to those moving responses we have read or heard from so many people in danger: “Thank you for coming.” “Please tell the world what is happening here.” “Explain to the world that we need their help.”

I mentioned the internet earlier. The digital world is brilliant in so many ways. It gives the beleaguered a chance to get out information, to learn what is going on in the world, to communicate with the outside.

The fact that it is unfiltered is one of its glories – and also one of its dangers. We need the objective view. If we want to know what is going on, told in a way that will make people hear, we need reporters.

So how fitting that we pay tribute today to journalists whose greatest threat is not from the financial decline of the industry, not from angry social media, not from Lord Leveson, but journalists who face jail or worse. And who keep going back.

To take three names as emblems of those who have been killed this year, we think of the Mexican reporter Marcos Hernández Bautista, shot in the head with a 9mm pistol as he climbed into his car outside a bar. He’d reported on local gangsters.

We think of Mohammed Ghalib al-Majidi, a freelance killed in Yemen, as Houthi rebel forces fought to besiege the city of Taiz.

And we think of David Gilkey, a National Public Radio reporter killed by a rocket propelled grenade on the first day he spent embedded with the Afghan army in Helmand province. Three journalists, doing their jobs, dying for their jobs.

We are all – to use a term that has attracted unnecessary abuse – citizens of the world.

Let us never forget the men and women who work to bring that world to us.


Sarah Baxter, Deputy Editor, The Sunday Times read Proverbs 8: 1-11

Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.

She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.

Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.

O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.

For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.

They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.

11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

Rohit Kachroo, Security Editor, ITV News read Extract from Berlin Diary by William Shirer

Berlin, 4th March 1940

Last night, by request, I broadcast a piece about the actual routine of broadcasting from here in War-time. Had never stopped to think of it before. Some extracts, for the record: The daily broadcast at six forty-five p.m., New York time, means our talking from here at a quarter to one on the following morning. If I could get gasoline for my car I could drive to the studio in twelve minutes. As it is, I have a ten-minute walk down the completely blacked-out Wilhelmstrasse to the subway. It is a rare night that I do not collide with a lamppost, a fire-hydrant, or a projecting stair-way, or flop headlong into a pile of snow.

Safely in the subway, I have a half-hour’s ride to the Rundfunk House. As half of the route is above ground, the train is plunged in darkness for fifteen minutes. My pockets are stuffed full of passes. If I cannot find the right one I must wait in the vestibule on arriving at the station and fill out a paper permitting me to enter. Finally arrived, I go to an office and write my script. Two offices down I can hear Lord Haw-Haw attacking his type-writer with gusto or shouting in his nasal voice against “that plutocrat Chamberlain.”

A half hour before my broadcast I must have my script in the hands of the censors. Follows a half-hour battle with them. If they leave enough to make it worthwhile to do the broadcast, as they usually do, I must then, in order to reach the studio and microphone, dash through winding corridors in the Broadcasting House, down many stairs, and out into a pitch-dark vacant lot in the middle of which are hidden steps – the lot being terraced – being careful not to bump into several sheds lurking in the way or to fall into a snow-drift.

In the course of this journey through the lot, I must get past at least three steel-helmeted S.S. guards whom I cannot see in the darkness, but who I know are armed with sawed-off automatic rifles and have orders to shoot anyone not halting at their challenge. They must see my pass. I search for it with my frozen fingers, and if I’m lucky and find it, I arrive at the studio in time and not too much out of breath, though not always in the sweetest of tempers. If the censors keep me, or the guards keep me, I arrive late, out of breath, sore and sour. I suppose listeners wonder why we pant so often through our talks.

Lord Black of Brentwood, Executive Director, Telegraph Media Group read He won’t be home for the Holidays by Emma Daly

Huffington Post, 23rd December 2013

This isn’t the first time that Syria has separated my friend Monica’s family at Christmas. In 2011, she spent the holidays reporting from the besieged city of Homs, while her husband, Javier, stayed home in Beirut with their two children. But this year it’s different: Javier is in Syria, held against his will by extremist Islamist fighters. Javier Espinosa and the photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, both award-winning Spanish journalists with long experience covering the Syrian conflict, were seized during a reporting trip in September after fighting erupted between rebel forces of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) in northern Syria. Four FSA soldiers were also captured.

Since then, Monica Garcia Prieto, a celebrated Spanish reporter who has covered the Middle East since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, has worked every contact she has to try to get Javier and Ricardo freed. She recorded an emotional video appeal, to no avail. The rebels released the four Syrians two weeks later, but they refuse to negotiate over her husband and his colleague.

Sadly, it’s become a common story. This month the Committee to Protect Journalists said that at least 30 journalists are missing in Syria, which it described as the most dangerous country in the world for the media. It’s hard to keep track of numbers, since many outlets and families choose to keep quiet about the missing in the hope of negotiating a return.

More than a dozen international media companies wrote to the Supreme Military Council (SMC) of the Free Syrian Army about the “increasingly common risk of abduction.” Because of the increased threat, they wrote, many outlets “have decided to limit their coverage of the war.” In response, the SMC promised to protect and support journalists, but said that most people going after the journalists were outside their control.

Of course Syrian journalists are also at greatest risk – including the many citizens and activists working to get information out about the fighting. One of the most prominent human rights defenders working inside Syria today, Razan Zeitouneh, was abducted by unknown forces on December 10, along with three colleagues. And a young freelance photographer was reported killed in Aleppo on Friday.

Among the other foreigners missing in Syria are the noted French foreign correspondent Didier Francois, another friend from Bosnia, Jim Foley, an American who was also held captive in Libya, a third Spanish reporter, two Swedish freelancers, and a Turkish photojournalist.

The world cannot learn about the horrors in Syria – or anywhere else – when journalists can’t do their jobs. Their families need them home as soon as possible – but so do we all.


The choir & organist of St Bride’s performed the following anthems and songs:

God be in my head – Walford Davies

Valiant for truth – Ralph Vaughan Williams

Many rivers to cross – Jimmy Cliff, arr. Robert Jones

Sacred Love – Gregory Sviridov


Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

My song is love unknown

Ye holy angels bright

congregation sitting for service


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