Dorothy Byrne on broadcast journalism and democracy

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=””][vc_column_text]Last month, at the Edinburgh Television Festival Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s highly respected head of news and current affairs, delivered a funny, brutal and hard-hitting MacTaggart lecture (above) that has been described as a clarion call for broadcast journalism to step up to the plate at a time when national and international democracy is being undermined.

In her speech, Byrne called out television’s current lack of bravery, innovation and commitment and called on commissioners and producers to embrace serious analysis, respect its viewers and return to clever, controversial and difficult TV that challenged contemporary society and helped to shape society for the better.

Byrne cited television’s lack of diversity, its reliance on a posh white male elite and recalled its sexist past, arguing that the industry’s failure to become more ethnically diverse undermines its important role as a mediator between politicians and the public. At a time when politicians are increasingly unwilling to give in-depth interviews on television and radio, she called on them to hold themselves up to proper scrutiny and accountability..

At its heart was a serious message about the role and responsibility of the free press in a democracy and a plea for television journalists to stand up and speak truth to power.

Join Dorothy Byrne in conversation with Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship in what promises to be a hard-hitting, honest and illuminating discussion.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”108972″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Speaker:

Dorothy Byrne is Head of News & Current Affairs at Channel Four Television. During her tenure, the Channel 4 News and current affairs programmes have won numerous BAFTA, RTS, Emmy Awards and others.

Dorothy was made a Fellow of The Royal Television Society for her outstanding contribution to television and received the Outstanding Contribution Award at the RTS Journalism Awards in 2018. She has received a BAFTA Scotland award for her services to television and has also won the Factual Award given by Women in Film and Television. She is the chair of the Ethical Journalism Network an alliance of reporters, editors and publishers that works to build trust in news media and strengthen journalism around the world through training, education and research.

She is a former World In Action producer and editor of ITV’s The Big Story. Before joining Channel 4 she also produced arts programmes and executive produced history series for the channel.  She is a Visiting Professor at De Montfort University where Channel Four supports an MA in Investigative Journalism. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”102254″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Chair:

Jodie Ginsberg is Chief Executive of Index on Censorship, a London-based organisation that has published work by censored writers and artists and campaigned globally on freedom of expression issues since 1972. Prior to joining Index, Jodie worked as a foreign correspondent and business journalist and was UK Bureau Chief for Reuters news agency. She sits on the council of global free expression network IFEX and the board of the Trust for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and is a regular commentator in international media on freedom of expression issues.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

When: Wednesday 11 September 7pm
Where: Frontline Club
Tickets: £12.50 via Frontline Club (Index members £10 via Frontline Club)

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Presented in partnership with the Ethical Journalism Network and the Frontline Club[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”108973″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” link=””][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”51677″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” link=””][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]

#IndexAwards2018: “How Do You Report From a Hostile Environment When That Environment is Home?”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”95278″ img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]Join Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg and nominees for this year’s Index Freedom of Expression Award for Journalism for a conversation about the challenges for local journalists reporting from some of the world’s most difficult environments.

Different forms of censorship can threaten journalists across the globe, be it state restrictions, political corruption, social taboos, all of these are barriers that nominees have had to push through to bring a story to light.

Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Awards exist to celebrate individuals or groups who have had a significant impact fighting censorship anywhere in the world. Awards are offered in four categories: Arts, Campaigning, Digital Activism and Journalism.

The evening will be celebrating past and potential future winners in the field of journalism.

Speakers include Wendy Funes, a journalist based in Honduras, whose father and friends are among the reporters killed there for their work – killings for which no one has ever been brought to justice. As well as reporting on corruption in the country, Funes covers violence against women in Honduras, where one woman is killed every 16 hours. Funes is one of four nominees shortlisted for the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for Journalism, which will be announced on April 19 in London.

Zaina Erhaim is a former Index Freedom of Expression Award winner and the winner of the 2015 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism. A Syrian journalist, Erhaim has been working for IWPR in Syria and Turkey since 2013 supporting journalists, civil society groups, and youth and female activists. Since February 2015, Erhaim has led the Women’s Blog project at IWPR, carrying pieces by new writers with no background in professional journalism, talking about the hardship of daily life and the horrors of war. Erhaim has been instrumental in bringing these stories out.

Jodie Ginsberg is a former foreign correspondent and was London bureau chief for Reuters from 2007-2011.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”80210″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

Jodie Ginsberg

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Zaina Erhaim

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Wendy Funes


This event has been cancelled. We apologise for any inconvenience.


Syrian journalist says UK is dealing with Assad as “a president, not a criminal”


Credit: Joseph Willits, Caabu

Journalist Zaina Erhaim says the Syrian government wants her killed and that co-operating with Syrian officials, by seizing her passport, was a very dangerous thing for the UK to have done. “It’s obvious that they are still dealing with Assad as a president, not a criminal.”

Erhaim, a Chevening scholar and award-winning reporter, had her passport confiscated by British officials when she flew into London to take part in a literature festival with former BBC foreign correspondent Kate Adie. Erhaim, who won the 2016 Index award for journalism, voiced concern that the actions of officials in the UK suggested that they condoned the Syrian government. “They were speaking about the regime with really tender language as if was a legitimate government,” she said.

The journalist was speaking at a press conference, organised by the Council for Arab-British Understanding, in conjunction with Index on Censorship, Reporters Without Borders, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and the Frontline Club. Her passport was seized at Heathrow on September 22 after being reported as stolen by the Syrian government.

Erhaim considers herself to be lucky because she has another passport, even if it is now full. She is also thankful that she works for an international organisation, speaks English and has the support of other journalists.

“If this happened to another Syrian who doesn’t have another valid passport and he or she’s not supported, what would happen?,” she asked. “Because if [border officials] are following the rules, they should deport him or her back to Damascus.”

Another major concern for her is making sure European governments are not able to deport Syrians fleeing from war in the future without the press being informed.

She said: “I’m not optimistic that the Home Office is going to be doing something about the situation, I’m not optimistic that my passport is going to be returned, and even if it’s returned I don’t think I would be able to use it again.”

When asked what a future without her passport holds, Erhaim said: “I believe this is going to be the last trip abroad I’m making. This is not as scary as not being able to go back to Turkey because all my family is there, the father of my baby is there. I don’t have my exit stamp for Turkey because that’s on the new passport. So they might ask me, ‘Where is your exit stamp?’ and not allow me in, which is really scary.”

If Erhaim is unable to gain access to Turkey, the only other option she sees at the moment is to stay in Britain or another European country where she holds a visa and seek asylum. This is a prospect she currently rejects. “I’m not ready for that,” she said.

Erhaim’s future may be uncertain but she will continue to fight and will only consider asking for asylum if she was threatened in Turkey or survived an assassination attempt.

“I would rather be stuck in Turkey than here, and I will try to go back.”

Also read:

Index condemns UK’s seizure of award winner’s passport

Podcast: How are women journalists shaping war reporting today?

Zaina Erhaim: “I want to give this award to the Syrians who are being terrorised”

Zaina Erhaim: Balancing work and family in times of war

1 Nov: Redefining foreign correspondents

For the London Press Club’s monthly social evening, Index on Censorship has teamed up with the Frontline Club to present a discussion examining the changing role of the foreign correspondent within a rapidly evolving media landscape.

In the past twenty years budget cuts across the foreign news industry have seen the near-demise of Western foreign correspondents posted abroad. In their place, local-national stringers have become increasingly important providers of foreign news stories. While the nature of conflicts changes and reporting from high-risk zones becomes more dangerous, the traditional model of the foreign correspondent has shifted. The majority of foreign news is no longer gathered by traditional foreign correspondents posted abroad, but by local nationals who were born and raised in the country they report on.

Is the foreign correspondent an endangered species in the news industry? What new models of foreign reporting are emerging alongside new information-gathering technologies? We will be joined by an expert panel to discuss trends in the industry and the future role of the foreign correspondent.

Chair: Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship magazine.


Kim Sengupta
Defence correspondent at The Independent.

Dr Haider Al Safi
London-based Iraqi journalist and media consultant covering middle eastern politics.

Caroline Lees
Former news and foreign correspondent who has worked as South Asia correspondent for the Sunday Times.

Samira Shackle
London-based freelance journalist who has reported extensively on Pakistan over the last five years

When: 1 November 2016, 7pm

Where: The Frontline Club (map)

Tickets: This is a free ticketed event. Fully booked.