Tuesday, 25 October 2011

There's Reality TV and then there's Reality TV

I had the privilege to attend an excellent event this week, at the Frontline Club in London – an inspiring meeting place, not just for journalists but for everyone who takes an interest in journalism and current affairs. And I do.

There are so many stories to tell out there, so many atrocities which need to be revealed, that normal news broadcasting time just isn't enough. Typically, news programmes are filled with the hottest topics, news items that make the headline that particular day. Pieces get dropped from the news belt when more newsworthy stories get wired in. Or tweeted in, even.

This is why I love Unreported World. This is the programme which picks up the stories that never get a mention in the daily news shows. This is the programme which gives a voice to Ugandan babies, dying at an early age from a terrible disease that can be cured – just because their parents cannot afford to travel to the doctor who can provide the operation. This is the programme which makes you physically share the fear amongst Syrian activists, protesting against the regime. The programme exploring how South Africa, seventeen years after being freed from apartheid, might not be as equal as we 'd like it to be.

I could go on. So many films, so many brilliant reporters risking their own lives to make these unique films.
Not just reporters, by the way. As was pointed out last night, these films are team efforts. Behind the scenes are camera crews, producers and not least – fixers in each country. All taking great risks to make sure these stories are being told. To us. You and me.
Something I very much appreciate about the work these teams do, is the fact that they go the extra mile to make sure their local contacts and fixers won't suffer from repercussions once the team has left and the film has been broadcast . There's a lot we don't see. In the report from Syria, I learnt there were constant change of hotels, change of cars, clothes and a general 'moving around', to avoid identification of the crew and fixers. Also, the faces of protestors were blurred throughout. Brilliant. Thoughtful. Shows how much care goes into the production.

It was great to be able to talk to the reporters at the event, pick their brains and hear their background stories about what went into each film.
You can watch the films on their website and now also on 4oD – around the world. No geographical restrictions anymore.

I am looking forward to seeing the next film this Friday, about Nigeria's millionaire preachers. I watched a clip at the event and it is definitely worth watching. Directly after Channel 4 News, on Fridays. Couldn't be better.

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