Sunday, December 31, 2006

The BBC comment of their coverage of Saddam's execution

The BBC have made public, the reasoning behind their recent broadcasts concerning the execution of Saddam Hussein.

This post by Kevin Backhurst who is the controller for BBC News 24, explains what the BBC decided to show and why.

The tightrope for any state broadcaster is very narrow to tread. The Corporation's mandate is to record and report events from around the world, but this must be done appropriately. Any BBC Journalist in NCA must follow editorial policy. It outlines how news events should be reported. In most cases the rules are easy to follow but in some cases, the lines become blurry. So what is appropriate or inappropriate?

This is a very complex issue with pro's and cons (see my last post regarding media coverage), censoring any news item for whatever reason can either damage accuracy or even misrepresent events or individuals.

Previously I pointed out that when governments or authorities censor news, we may be forgiven for being a little skeptical as to why but when the censoring is applied by the broadcaster and not faceless men in grey suits, it becomes a whole different issue.

What if the news wasn't 'sanitised' or cut? What if it was shown, warts and all? We may connect more powerfully with what's happening. For example, over 75% of Americans support capital punishment, but I wonder if the figure would quite as high if they were televised? Once we see events in full or once we see the uncut aftermath. It can be particularly powerful.

Now were back to that fine line. If we did show the real carnage of war or suicide bombings, we would upset many people. How would bereaved relatives feel? How would we feel?

I think a case could be made for a more 'hardcore' news but I'm not sure how it should be made or by whom. Millions of 'non-newsy' viewers will have tuned in to see the recent footage from Iraq, but the modus-operandi for news organisations should never be sensationalism or macabre-ism, even if these would pull in the most viewers.


Firstly, may I congratulate the BBC on providing tasteful, decent yet comprehensive coverage of Saddam's execution.

These are incredibly delicate days at the moment. The way in which the worldwide media cover this issue could set the public mood in the region for the coming days and months.

The BBC have reported accurately and appropriately and as such, the editorial decisions taken have upheld the corporations reputation for authoritative reporting.

I posted on this blog earlier. I commented then, that the single stories in themselves, point to much wider issues in general. It's this 'bigger picture' which must be considered by the news editors as I personally think that the real questions and issues have yet to be asked and examined.

Unofficial footage of Saddam's Execution

***WARNING: This post contains video footage of a graphic nature***

Covertly shot footage which appears to have been taken on a mobile phone, shows the last moments of Saddam Hussein's life before he was executed yesterday.

Interestingly, the footage shows a different scene from the 'official' footage released to the worldwide media soon after the execution.

In what must be one of the most graphic examples of 'citizen journalism' to date, the grainy footage, including sound, shows Saddam's execution in full, and rather than a calm serene scene, it appears to be a noisy, highly charged event where insults are thrown around the room with Saddam answering back on more than one occasion towards his accusers. This in itself is not surprising as the official footage released yesterday did not include sound, nor did it actually show the execution.

The footage is included below however please do not watch if you are offended easily. It is uncut.


Here is a transcript of the audio taken from the footage and translated into English.

Translation of Arabic subtitles accompanying the latest execution footage when broadcast on al-Jazeera TV station:

[Saddam] Oh God.

[Voices] May God's blessings be upon Muhammad and his household.

[Voices] And may God hasten their appearance and curse their enemies.

[Voices] Moqtada [Al-Sadr]...Moqtada...Moqtada.

[Saddam] Do you consider this bravery?

[Voice] Long live Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr.

[Voice] To hell.

[Voice] Please do not. The man is being executed. Please no, I beg you to stop.

[Saddam] There is no God but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God. There is no God but Allah and I testify that Muhammad... [At this point, Saddam is executed]

The footage then becomes blurred before finally showing Saddam's face, he is dead, his eyes remain open.


The fact that this footage has been recorded and propagated, shows how the media is being used unwittingly to create different accounts of the same incident. As such, the importance of citizen journalism is on the rise. It offers an undiluted and uncontaminated account of events, separate from comment or images released by official bodies or governments.

Some will argue that footage such as this, proves that the full details behind world events are often kept out of the public gaze. Why wasn't the full, unedited footage released by the official authorities and does the fact that the full footage has been covertly filmed and leaked online, harm the image of Iraq as a new democracy?

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Saddam Hussein was executed around 3am this morning (GMT).

He was executed by Iraqi volunteers for 'crimes against humanity' and the process was filmed and then released to newsagencies around the world.

I don't think many people could argue Saddam's innocence. This was a man who carried out some pretty heinous acts but I still personally feel that his execution achieves nothing beyond recharging and refueling the circle of bloodshed.

Saddam's so-called 'trial' could only ever come to one conclusion and rather like a fox that 'plays' with its victims before killing them, the outcome was also inevitable.

How does killing repay killing? Who profits? What does his execution achieve? Why couldn't Saddam spend the rest of his days in jail?

The Iraqi people recently had a chance to write their 'constitution', something which they could not do under Saddam's rule. They had a chance to put an end to brutal law but it seems that as far as 'state-sanctioned-murder' goes, little has changed.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Islamic Martyr?

Saddam Hussein has lost his 'appeal', he will be executed at some point during the next four weeks.

I am concerned that the Iraqi government (fully supported by the USA and the UK) will do nothing more than make things worse by taking the life of yet another human being in this so-called-war on terror.

Saddam may be guilty of war crime but how does anyone benefit from his death? How can anyone from these so-called 'civilised' countries, continue to bay for his blood?

Saddam will be murdered under the law, his execution will be fully condoned by the UK, a nation which supposedly objects to capital punishment and the fundamentalists will now have a new face for their battle of hatred. Thousands more will die under the name of Saddam, both in Iraq and probably the USA and the UK too.

I am sick of duplicitous governments talking justice and democracy whilst overthrowing regimes and executing their leaders. Its not good enough to claim the moral high-ground and then execute a man. They may try to say this is an Iraqi decision but they are fooling nobody.

Come on Tony... If we don't support the death penalty here in the UK then why don't you speak out about this and try to get the sentence commuted to life? I don't think this will happen but lets not be too surprised when the troubles in Iraq deepen. With Saddam's death, the Iraqi's, Americans and Brits have signed thousands of other death warrants too.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pictures from the Vatican

I have finally created and uploaded a picture slideshow containing some pictures from my trip to Rome.

I'm due back in the next year to work on a project for the BBC which will be broadcast nationally in the UK and featured online too.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with the slideshow...

Aidan of Lindisfarne's christmas message

Hmmm, it seems as if the spirit of christmas cheer doesn't quite spread as far as it should, especially within the church itself.

My mate took this picture doing a trip out and I couldn't help notice the 'unsaintly' like gesture being offered up by this so-called-holy-man whilst wearing what appears to be the full Bishops garbs.

It got me thinking on a serious note. Maybe we place too much importance on people who, are really just like us all when you get down to it.

There's another Bishop at the moment who's behavior is being challenged as less than picture perfect. He said he was mugged but some people think he was drunk. Either way, I cannot help but think that if only we didn't pretend that all these 'very right worshipful reverends' are 'Godlike' then we'd realise that according to the Bible at least, we are all sinners... Every single one of us, Bishops, bloggers 'et al'.

In fact, surely that's whats at the heart of the christmas message? According to the bible, thats why Jesus was born, he was born to deal with sin by dying on the cross.

Maybe if we can see past the tall hats, robes and all the other paraphernalia, not to mention all the over commecialised 'Santa Claus' xmas, we may catch a glimpse of Christ himself this time round.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

A week away...

Can bloggers take time off? Do we deserve time off or should we be chained to the computer terminal to continuously churn out our rants, ramblings and observations?

Partly prompted by this BBC Manchester blog post and also by a slight pang of guilt for not updating for a whole seven days, I found myself wondering to what extent and for what purpose do we blog at all?

I suppose for me, its partly to express thoughts and feelings which we all have but we don't all share. We all have opinions on most things but there isn't often an outlet, unless your a blogger of course!

My break over in the Lakes was great, I feel quite relaxed now (almost able to face Christmas... Well almost) It rained continuously for five days and nights but aside from a trip to Newcastle, my Girlfriend and I spent most of the time in our cottage, by the wood burner.

Anyway I am back now and I've returned to 118 emails and a load of work but just time to include one of my pics... Hopefully it will help me keep a sense of 'holiday peace' beyond tomorrows rush hour.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Final touches for the Rock FM media bus

After a complete internal refurb which includes state of the art plasma screens and computers. The Rock FM media bus will be ready to hit the roads by tomorrow as the finishing touches to the exterior design are finalised.

I got chance to take a look today and I must say its looking really good indeed. The bus will be used in schools and community projects across the North West region and to top it all off, we will also be hosting live broadcasts, music gigs and DJ workshops plus lots of other extra things which have yet to be thrown into the mix.

The Rock FM bus has already proved to be incredibly popular for a few lucky schools who were able to work on pilot projects over recent weeks but as the paint dries on the outside, the focus will once again shift to providing top-quality teaching and media training on the inside.

The bus is kitted out with a laptop zone and a separate couched area at the back where another group can work on planning or watch a dvd. Its also possible to broadcast onto the radio from the bus and over the coming weeks and months, some of the station presenters and guests will be popping on board for special visits.


If you'd like more information about the bus or if you'd like us to visit your school or community centre then drop me an email and we'll have a chat.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Photojournalism and Wigan Athletic

I have recently been working and devising a photojournalism course for use within secondary schools and as the project draws to a close, I thought I'd blog about it a bit for any teachers who want to explore ways of looking at photography/art/media and communication outside of the classroom.

Pictured above is Tony Smith from Wigan Athletic who manages the community bus which allows the club to deliver ICT and media training in schools. Some of you may know that since the start of this academic year, I have been working as part of this team and I decided that this would be the ideal platform to build further on my ideas of how to use photography to engage people in community related issues.

For this project, we took a group of five students to the training ground where they had chance to have a go at sports photography as Wigan Athletic were training. The coaching staff and team were excellent and the Manager kindly allowed me to take an 'official photo' which will now be signed and presented to the school.

After the photoshoot, Tony showed the students round the JJB stadium and then held a mini press conference in the press room, all the time, reinforcing how the media work with the club on matchdays to get all the important info into the public domain as quickly as possible.

The project has proved to be incredibly successful and for me, it goes to show that within education, media can be used as a useful tool to engage pupils with curriculum topics and in this case, take a more detailed look at the world around them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm really getting into my games...

Anybody who's into their computer games will probably be well aware of just how powerful the next-gen consoles are, but some of the graphics in the latest xbox 360 shooter, do look more realistic than usual.

In Rainbow Six: Vegas, you get to sign up to the fictional Rainbow squad, devised by Tom Clancy. Its then time to run around Las Vegas and gamble with your virtual life as you tackle the nasty terrorists who have clearly been recruiting... There's thousands of them!

Gameplay aside, one really nice feature allows you to get right into the action by mapping your face right into the game. Users who own the xbox webcam can take a series of photos which are then digitally 'mapped' into the game, in 360 degree glory.

I found my virtual persona to be slightly flattering, but amazingly accurate! And as I went online, I noticed a few other familiar faces too.

Yes, in the game, I bumped into George Bush. I shot Homer Simpson (doh!) and JFK and even glimpsed one cheeky chappy who had tried to include a picture of their posterior (with mixed results).

With a slight degree of seriousness, I am amazed how the latest breed of games consoles are bringing a richer and more vivid world into the games which we are playing and I cannot help but wonder where this can go to next. Oh and to the 'bum' who was running around before... Get a shave mate...