Review: Journalists’ Commemorative Service 2022

Written by Sela Musa, journalist & this year’s Guild of St Bride Journalism Bursary holder

Over a decade ago, the late Sunday Times Foreign Correspondent, Marie Colvin, asked St Bride’s church: “is it worth the cost in lives, heartbreak, loss? Can we really make a difference?” Twelve years later, on Tuesday 8th November 2022, St Brides came together at its annual commemorative service for journalists to say yes, yes we can.

Daily Mail Royal Editor, Rebecca English, brought Her Majesty The Queen’s words back to life with a reading from her message during the pandemic to all members of the News Media Association.

“As our world has changed dramatically, having trusted, reliable, sources of information, particularly at a time when there are so many sources competing for our attention, is vital.” Echoing this message with a reading from Ephesians, Sky News Correspondent, Shamaan Freeman-Powell, recited: “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth…so that your words may give grace to those who hear.”

Danielle Sheridan, Defence Editor at the Daily Telegraph, reflected on the horrors that she had witnessed during her time in Ukraine. Reading a passage from the speech that Marie Colvin delivered to the church in 2010, Danielle emotionally drew parallels between the words she was reading and her own experiences today.

Covering the war means “trying to find the truth in a sandstorm of propaganda,” Danielle quoted, highlighting the importance of providing the public with a source of accurate information amidst fake news, propaganda, and partial truths. “The public have a right to know what our government, and armed forces, are doing in our name. Our mission is to speak the truth to power.”

“The real difficulty is having enough faith in humanity to believe that enough people, be they the government, military, or man on the street, will care when your file reaches the printed page, the website or the TV screen.”

“We do have that faith because we believe we do make a difference.”

John Irvine, ITV News Senior International Correspondent, also resurfaced his own experiences. Reporting on Iraq, John told the church that this was one of the most dangerous conflicts he had covered. Reflecting on a chilling memory, he spoke of being stuck in full-on combat for nine hours in Iraq, witnessing four suicide bombs blow up around him.

Echoing the theme of the whole service, John pondered what probably every journalist, every correspondent, every photographer, and every member of the sound and camera-crew have at least pondered once before. The question, he said, is whether the coverage matters.

The answer is yes. “Yes it does.”

In the terrifying moments before what he thought could have been his probable end, John held the whole room still.

“I expressed a calmness, a quiet moment of clarity. I gave thanks for my life, for my wife, and for my children.”

But there were no regrets, he said. “But then of course I was doing my job.”

The choir sang Who Shall Separate Us by James MacMillan, with each layer of sound igniting the room as three candles were lit. One candle for those who have lost their lives, the other two for those who are missing or held captive, and for those who continue to report at great risk.

From the words of The Rector: “At our service this evening we remember them all.”

Posted On: Thursday 10th November, 2022

congregation sitting for service


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