St Bride's: News - Review of Journalists' Commemorative Service "Truth to Power"

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St Bride's: News

Review of Journalists' Commemorative Service "Truth to Power"

Review of Journalists' Commemorative Service

This year's Annual Journalists' Service remembered a number of occasions: 150 years of PA, 8 years since Marie Colvin spoke at St Bride's first Journalists' Service and 6 years since her death. Whilst Marie has been in the spotlight in the last few months with a book, film and documentary made about her life, the service made everyone aware that there are many others to both remember who have lost their lives to ensure we know the truth.

Those who lost their lives covering the First World War were remembered during a reading of Robert Graves' poem 'Armistice Day, 1918' by Chris Evans, The Telegraph's Editor. This was followed by the choir singing part of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem as candles were lit for those journalists who have lost their lives, those currently missing or held captive, and those who continue to report at great risk.

As well as commemorating those who gave their lives for their journalism over the past 12 months, this year's service marked a number of other anniversaries.

The 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster was marked by the reading out of the names of the eight journalists killed in the crash.

Yet recent events, including the murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, were never far from anyone's mind, bringing home just how crucial the theme of this year's service, 'Truth to Power', remains.

As Peter Clifton, editor-in-chief of the PA, said in his reflection, the media now "face more pressure than ever from those who dismiss news they don't like as fake", and must learn to exist in a climate where "a wild rumour on social media can be reported so many times some think it's true."

For all of these challenges, Clifton remains hopeful about the future of the industry. The PA is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, and he lauded the fact that journalism remains "a profession of honest, decent people who work well beyond the call of duty".

Keynote speaker and former editor-in-chief of Vogue, Alexandra Shulman began her address by commending all those who had "given their lives in the heroic pursuit of a story" this year. She went on to acknowledge that her own career had "hardly been life-threatening", but emphasised that there is a "common thread that unites all journalists: the desire to tell stories."

Shulman spoke of her concerns for the industry as it faces challenges on multiple sides. She condemned the increased threats to journalists' safety and greater impingement on press freedom around the world, before moving on to the difficulties of marketisation in the digital age, lamenting how many media organisations now struggle to turn a profit.

And yet, as she told us: "journalists of every kind are as important as ever." For all of this uncertainty, as Shulman reminded the congregation: "change is a vital sign - it shows you are alive, and journalism is very much alive."

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