mediaguardian+–>(mediaguardian) Channel 4 News has poached Sky News reporter Rachel Amatt, who was reporting from inside the school in Beslan last month when it was stormed by Russian special forces, to be its North of England correspondent. Amatt will join Channel 4 News in November and is to be based at the Leeds bureau operated by independent production company Chamelon Television.
As well as filing stories for Channel 4 News at Noon, Amatt will be working with Chamelon on longer form news features and investigations for the network’s flagship evening news bulletin.
“Much as I have been very happy at Sky, this was just too good an opportunity to turn down,” she said.
The Channel 4 News deputy editor, Martin Fewell, said Amatt “had a big role to play” and “will be a real asset to the programme”.
During the bloody climax to the Beslan school siege last month, when more than 300 hostages died after Chechen rebels let off explosive devises, Amatt was on the spot reporting live as Russian special forces troops moved in and the casualties – including many young children – were brought out.
Observer TV critic Peter Conrad later said Amatt sounded terrified and was “hyperventilating her way through the commentary”, adding that Sky News bosses might have sent her to Beslan thinking “that a woman would be a more emotionally ingratiating witness”.
However, Channel 4 News’ international editor, Lindsay Hilsum, came to Amatt’s defence in the Observer letters page: “Maybe Sky News sent Rachel Amatt because she is a good reporter, who happened to be staffing the Moscow bureau at the time. Maybe Rachel Amatt didn’t sound ‘terrified’, it’s just that Peter Conrad thought she did, because he was alarmed to see a woman in a dangerous place.”
Amatt has covered some of the biggest domestic stories in recent years during her time at Sky News, including the Soham murders, the deaths of Victoria Climbie and Damilola Taylor, and the Stansted hijack. She has also reported from Jerusalem and Washington
Never heard of that jerk from the Observer. Bet the most dangerous place he’s ever been is his local pub at closing time.
Good luck Rachel. Hope you get what you want out of joining C4. I guess she didn’t get offered the Africa foreign correspondent job then, and Emma Hurd’s not moving from Jerusalem by the look of it, so she felt she needed a new challenge.
Sky are small. Not many reporters there who could or would do the “Beslan” type reporting. Wonder if Stuart Ramsay will do that sort of work, along with DC and…who else? Which of the younger crowd? Rachel may be junior to Michelle Clifford (who knows); Michelle worked in Afghanistan but has she been abroad doing tough assignments since? (q, not a criticism). OK yes, I know you’ll say Iraq in April 03 but that was after the “war” (the official bombardment version, not the ongoing one…).