Chapter Nineteen: Humanitarianism, Communications, and Change: Final Reflections
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Humanitarianism, Communications, and Change
GLENDA COOPER AND SIMON COTTLE
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).
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