St Bride's: News - Reviews of Journalists' Commemorative Service "Bearing Witness"

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St Bride's: News

Reviews of Journalists' Commemorative Service "Bearing Witness"

Reviews of Journalists' Commemorative Service

Kate Mansey, Deputy Features Editor of The Mail on Sunday:

katemansey.jpgAt least 95 journalists were killed last year according to the International Federation of Journalists and many more were injured or wrongfully imprisoned simply for doing their work. The life of a journalist has always been dangerous - particularly for those who brave conflict zones to shine a light on the atrocities of war. Yet increasingly journalists are not just killed for reporting in battle zones but find themselves deliberately targeted in a bid to silence them.

On Tuesday 29th October, 2019 the annual journalists' service was held at St Bride's Church to commemorate the reporters, photographers, camera crews and support staff who have lost their lives in their dedicated pursuit of the truth.

Entitled Bearing Witness, the service, attended by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, served to remind us of the mission of journalists: to faithfully record all they see and hear to bear witness to the truth at all costs and to report that truth so that none can say: 'I did not know.'

In 2010 Marie Colvin, the foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times, delivered the address at the inaugural journalist service. She was tragically killed in Syria two years later when she was targeted for covering the siege of the city of Homs.

This year, Marie Colvin's colleague Paul Conroy, a photographer and film maker who managed to escape alive after being injured in the same attack, gave a powerful address in which he spoke of the importance of those who risk everything to report the facts.

In an age when journalists are being murdered for their work and when genuine stories are dismissed as 'fake news', their role, he said, has never been more crucial.

There were three readings by Sky News presenter Gillian Joseph, broadcaster Nick Ferrari and Evening Standard Editor George Osborne. Music came from St Bride's Choir.

The congregation remembered in their prayers all those who seek to give a voice to the voiceless and to tell stories that would otherwise remain untold.

Among the prayers for journalists who have lost their lives and those who mourn them, there were also bidding prayers for the victims of war and natural disaster and prayers for peace.

Simon Greaves, Video Revise Editor & former staff journalist, Financial Times:

simon greaves.jpgPhotojournalist and documentary maker Paul Conroy recalled his colleague and friend Marie Colvin's words in his address at the annual journalists' commemorative service. Ms Colvin, the Sunday Times journalist who was killed in a 2012 rocket attack in Homs, Syria, that seriously injured Mr Conroy, spoke at the first such service in 2010: "Our mission is to speak truth to power. We send home that first rough draft of history. We can and do make a difference in exposing the horrors of war and especially the atrocities that befall civilians."

The "Bearing Witness" themed service reflected their shared desire to bear witness to events, even if it meant putting themselves in danger. Their French photographer and friend Remi Ochlick also died in the same attack.

Mr Conroy also repeated the plea of his Syrian helpers when he was injured in that attack to "go tell the truth". "I've been doing that ever since," he said. A documentary about his work in Libya and Syria with Ms Colvin, Under The Wire, is a compelling and harrowing account of their professional lives together, giving insights into the human tragedy inflicted by the Assad regime in Syria. This year has also seen the release of a film about their work, A Private War. 

The service, first of a remembrance tide series, honours the journalists, camera crew and support staff who have been killed or injured on the front line or elsewhere this year, It was attended by the Duchess of Cornwall, patron of the Guild of St Bride. Candles were lit for those who have died or been killed on the front line this year, and those missing, imprisoned or held hostage.

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