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Two Veteran War Reporters Join Kate Adie to Debate War Reporting Ethics

Originally Published 13 February 2003

As war looms in Iraq distinguished war reporter Kate Adie, whose career spans conflicts from Libya to Kuwait, and Afghanistan, along with Michael Jermey, Managing Director of ITN International, and veteran BBC war reporter, Jake Lynch, will debate the ethics of conflict reporting at the University of Warwick, on 19th February 2003 at 6.30pm.

Maureen Freely, Warwick Writing Programme Senior Lecturer and debate chair, said: "As the media gears up to offer us up-to-the-minute coverage of Bush versus Saddam, and the BBC plans to make a fly-on-the-wall documentary with unprecedented access to British forces the need for discussion about war reporting is more pressing than ever."

"Today's media focus on the trivial and entertainment means we aren't told in depth about what is going on in the world. September 11th brought to the fore the importance of news organisations committing to ethical and balanced reportage of significant global developments. Western cultural remoteness meant, initially, many people and much of the media were completely oblivious as to why the attack took place. Highly visual blow-by-blow accounts drowned out in-depth investigation and explanation of the purpose behind the suicide hijackings. This breeds misunderstanding and does a disservice to those who actually care. Knowing almost nothing, many settled for identifying the villain as some all-powerful, far-reaching Evil."

The debate will question how news can best inform audiences in today's increasingly interdependent world. News can influence events in the field, and this creates ethical responsibility for journalists and editors. It is a war reporter's job to report the facts, but is there a duty to explain the roots of the conflict? Should the media inform the public about all sides of a conflict? Is it proper to show all the horrors of war on television news?

Maureen Freely added: "As Kate Adie points out in her autobiography The Kindness of Strangers management's influence on news and the desk in London shapes international news and constructs what we know about conflicts. We need to take the power of the media seriously. There's a need for critical self-awareness by the media and a workable ethic of responsibility in the coverage of international affairs."

The panel will share their collective experience of covering recent major stories on the international news agenda as part of the national Orange Index Debate series. The event is being held at Warwick Arts Centre, the University of Warwick.

For further information contact: Jenny Murray, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 574255 Mobile: 07876 217740 Email:

Maureen Freely, Senior Lecturer, Warwick Writing Programme, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, Tel: 01225 859860 (Monday, Tuesday and Friday) Tel: 02476 523348 Mobile: 07768 893567

Journalists are welcome to attend the event. Please contact Jenny Murray to confirm attendance.

Kate Adie joined the BBC in 1969 and was their Chief News Correspondent from 1989 to January 2003. She has won awards for her coverage of Northern Ireland, the American bombing of Tripoli and the student uprising in China in 1989. She was awarded the OBE in 1993. Her autobiography The Kindness of Strangers was published in 2002.

Michael Jermey is a former Head of Foreign News at ITN. He was active in the 1990s managing ITN's news coverage during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union and Rwanda. He was a senior ITN producer in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War of 1990-91.

Jake Lynch is an experienced international reporter in television and radio news. He is also the author of Reporting the World, an ethical checklist for the reporting of conflicts. See: