Journalists facing deadly risks

Not for the first time, I’m ruminating about the deadly risks facing journalists working in conflict zones or countries like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt or even India. It’s 1am and I’m reading the Guardian Weekly, starting with its world roundup, where my eye is drawn to a headline: “Indian journalist beaten to death.” In just 100 words we are told that Shantanu Bhowmick’s death at the hands of a stick-wielding mob brings the…

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Cucumbers and the silly season

All through my journalism career I tried to take holidays at this time of year – the peak summer period known universally as the ‘silly season’ It’s called that, here and abroad, to describe the sudden drying up of real news stories (or even cleverly disguised fake stories). The media must continue on its 24/7 quest for yarns, but the fare becomes increasingly trivial, short on detail and (gasp) exaggerated. In Australia, the ‘do not…

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Each cliche a cliffhanger

She Who Reads Newspapers: “Dear, it seems a raft of measures has been swept out to sea by a storm of protest.” “Zounds,” I say (exhuming an archaic oath meaning indignation). “That will teach them not to put all their eggs in one basket.” There was a time when a journalist wouldn’t touch a cliché with a barge pole, as Nigel Rees says in the introduction to his book, The Joy of Cliches. We all…

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