Edited By Simon Cottle and Glenda Cooper
When Michael Buerk revealed to the world the extent of famine in Korem, Ethiopia, in 1984, his startling report became perhaps the biggest story that the BBC did in the 1980s until the fall of the Berlin Wall (Simpson, 1998). His seven-minute report contained only his own voice and that of a white doctor (Cooper, 2007); the video rushes were carried back to London, as Buerk wrote and rewrote his script on the night flight from Kenya. The result however was astonishing. As Franks writes: “In an era before satellite, social media and YouTube, the BBC report went viral— being transmitted by more than 400 television stations worldwide” (Franks, 2013). The iconic imagery of the Buerk report still overshadows humanitarian re- porting today. But the world in which one man told an amazing story, able to keep it as an exclusive as he travelled back across the world, has changed. Today, as this collection shows there are many more channels for such stories to be told through, and many different types of storytellers. Journalists and aid agencies are no longer the sole gatekeepers to such information. Instead we have seen how citizens have taken on the role of witness, how NGOs have transformed themselves into storytellers, and how journalists such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper have abandoned traditional approaches of objec- tivity in order to intervene themselves. Edited highlights of Cooper’s career on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aosNAGt3AxQ) show him rescu- ing a small boy from a mob in Haiti, taking...
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