Frank Gardner

Discussions on news and breaking news events including, BBC News, ITV News, Sky News
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Post by Johnnie » Mon Jun 07, 2004 11:51 am

BBC cameraman Simon Cumbers has been killed and correspondent Frank Gardner injured after gunmen opened fire near the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Cumbers, 36, was a freelance journalist and cameraman working for the BBC, the BBC said in a statement.

Frank Gardner, 42, is the BBC's security correspondent and a leading expert on AL-Qaeda, the statement said.

My thoughts are with the families of Simon Cumbers and Frank Gardner tonight. lets hope Frank makes it home safely.

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Post by ST34 » Tue Jun 08, 2004 12:28 pm

While thoughts and condolences are with the family of the killed cameraman and we hope for a recovery of the BBC correspondent, the question should be asked why they were in that part of Riyadh.

Suwaidi is a notorious zone of the capital and to be filming there seems reckless beyond the call of duty.

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Post by Newsroom » Tue Jun 08, 2004 12:40 pm

The cameraman was from County Meath in Ireland

(For your info)

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Post by kaylover » Tue Jun 08, 2004 12:50 pm

They were in that part of Riyadh because they were doing there job to bring us the news a job in which they have had to scarafice there lives in doing.

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Post by nige » Sun Jun 13, 2004 11:18 am


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Post by Steven » Sun Jun 13, 2004 3:19 pm

I too saw that programme. Nic Robertson, Senior Intl Corr. CNN, and some bloke who had written a book on journalism. Essentially, they all agreed that a story was worth losing your life over.

Here's a related article from todays mediaguardian:

A job worth dying for? Of course it is

Peter Preston

Sunday June 13, 2004

The Observer

Sometimes the deaths are random, accidents in waiting just happening, unfriendly fire. The fact that a journalist dies is just one of those things. But sometimes there's no such happenstance. Sometimes, as last week in Riyadh, the killing is deliberate, the reporters and cameramen seem specific targets.

Because poor Simon Cumbers worked for the BBC and because Frank Gardner, still fighting for life in hospital, was the corporation's high-profile security correspondent, the jolting news of what was done to them in Suweidi suburb goes around the world. But it is, in truth, only one more entry in a stretching catalogue of murderous attacks.

Take the latest International Press Institute figures. Last year was the worst for journalists' safety since Bosnia and Sierra Leone brought a brief ballooning of mayhem. Sixty-four journalists and media workers died in the cause of duty. Thirty-four have died in Iraq since that war began. Yet Baghdad isn't by any means the whole story. Try nine more dead in Colombia and seven more in the Philippines. The blood flows in other hot spots with dismaying regularity.

Rodney Pinder is director of the new (and dynamic) International News Safety Institute, an organisation formed because of the challenge. 'The old rules that used to govern conflict, where reporters were largely accepted as impartial observers, have gone by the board,' he says.

Forget conflicts we remember, such as Northern Ireland, in which journalist casualties came mercifully few and far between. There were 22 deaths world-wide in January and February alone, a terrible start to an increasingly terrible year. Look at the INSI website record of attacks and kidnappings for last month, shooting piled on shooting almost day by day. Iraq is much, but by no means the whole, of it.

There is nothing random here. Some terrorists, such as Eta, have always shot at journalists. Now it's becoming a general fashion.

What can print or broadcast editors do? They can get behind bodies such as INSI, which offer particular training and expertise. They can see the body armour bought and the survival tactics absorbed. They can make sure the insurance policies are in place. But the moral dilemmas they, and their staff, face, stretch beyond basic awareness.

Adrian van Klaveren, the BBC's head of newsgathering, talks of 'a very fine line of judgment between risks and editorial needs'. In fact, he means a cat's cradle of sinister strands. Should BBC reporters have armed guards alongside? Perhaps, with due sanction; but there have always been good contrary reasons, too. 'I don't want to kill someone for the sake of a story,' said John Simpson after his own near-death experience.

Yet how important is that story? Most of the journalists dying in Iraq this year aren't westerners, but Iraqis working for the local press or hired to go where inter national reporters - threatened with kidnap or assassination - can't sensibly venture. Are we happy about putting their lives at risk? Are we happy, in turn, about relying on their information at what is essentially second-hand?

The question goes right to the heart of journalism's role. Do we (as Jonathan Steele of the Guardian would ask) need to know what's happening inside the closed city of Fallujah? Do we need eye-witnesses we can trust? Do we need to slide by Putin's guards and see Chechnya whole? How on earth, as Frank Gardner might add, can we understand the perilous state of Saudi Arabia if our correspondents never risk perils on their own?

Is it, in sum, important that we, the readers and viewers, have our own sources - indeed, any sources at all, because diplomats based overseas tend to bail out early (and rely on the press to a quite surprising degree)? There's one question where you have to answer yes. Just as the journalists in Colombia would do in their own quiet, determined way.

Why are they dying in such numbers? Because when you try to expose corruption, to take on the drug cartels or the rebels or corrupt authority, then bad things happen to you. But you're fighting for your society, the society you care about and serve. So you go on.

It is a choice which, with or without armour or bodyguards, we shall have to see made time and again through the coming years. When is a story worth dying for? When there is a real and urgent need to know. When journalism, tired of grubbing round in the quagmires of Big Brotherdom, remembers that entertainment isn't the only thing that matters - and realises that it's being targeted for a purpose.

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Post by Stevo » Sun Jun 13, 2004 5:12 pm


Exactly! That's the profession that these people choose and they are well aware of the risks and dangers associated with covering war situations as part of their job. But some people thrive on that sort of thing, just as some people thrive on free-fall parachuting! There are some very brave people around in the news media who cover extremely dangerous situations for a living, let us not forget that when we are enjoying the close at hand war coverage that these days we take for granted on Sky News, BBC, CNN etc........

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Post by eagleeye » Mon Jun 14, 2004 2:20 pm

Think a highly competitive industry/big business like the media is doing a bit of self justification here, & massaging their ethical egos in the service of competing with rival news orgs (in that article, written by an editor; nice and safe in London). I don't agree that you risk your life and that of your crew as a journalist "when there is a pressing need to know" - period. What does that waffle mean anyhow? If you take a risk, it has to be a justifiable one. Of course it's not a risk free profession, if you do 'that' type of reporting. But no machismo, just pure professionalism. And when someone is deliberately targeting journalists, do not make yourself an easy target just to impress your ed in London or get ahead of your rivals.

Just look at TV compared to 10 years ago. Now it's all reality TV crap and short attention span news - which is essentially what rolling news is (not knocking it per se; just saying that it can't by its very nature, get to the heart of why something is happening as it doesn't lend time to analysis). Therefore you are asking reporters and their crews to risk their lives for a 2 minute clip played out to a largely inattentive audience. Be honest - how many of you watch the international news really attentively and with great interest? Would you have been interested in Frank Gardner's report or would you have maybe watched it with vague disinterest, waiting to see what or who's on next? Or if you're male, doing a bit of 'channel hopping' with the remote?!

I agree it can be up to the individual journalist to decide IF - and how many are senior enough for this? - they are under no career pressure from their bosses to do something, and IF they have freedom of movement to do their jobs properly - something that there just isn't in Iraq right now. My friend knows a cameraman with one of the main news orgs in the UK. He says no story is worth a life, most emphatically.

Btw the BBC now DO have armed guards. I suppose Sky teams do too?

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Post by Steven » Mon Jun 14, 2004 4:37 pm

That article may have been written by an editor in London but the contributors to the CNN programme the other evening, Nic Robertson (Senior Intl Correspondent, CNN) and John Simpson (World Affairs Editor, BBC), certainly were not. They regularly take the risks and do so because they believe the story is worth telling. This is the point that they both stressed during the debate.

Nic Robertson said that when reporting on a particular conflict within a city, for example, the city may look dangerous. But then you get there and it's a particular suburb or area of that city. Then it's a praticular street within that area that is dangerous. So on and so forth. It's basically about how close you can get.

With regards to the BBC and armed guards. John Simpson, on this programme Saturday evening said that it was pure rumour and was against the idea of armed guards.

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