Thursday, April 27, 2006

Pick of the Bunch... Journalists

It was a television programme: 'Fergal Keane's Forgotten Britain' that properly drew my attention to Keane - foreign correspondent, writer and broadcaster. He had been approached by the BBC to think about making a journey around Britain:
"...when the BBC asked me to think about making a journey through the country, I did not rush to find a foreign journey to offer as an alternative. I listened to the proposal and was intrigued. If this was the country where my child would be reared, I felt I'd better get to know something beyond the middle-class zone of comfort in which I'd settled. Over the course of nearly two years my ideas about the dullness of Britain were to be altered sharply; the stories described in this book were a vivid corrective to my foolish presumption that nothing much happened in British lives."
(Fergal Keane, 'A Stranger's Eye' p11, Penguin Books 2000)

And so he made this journey. I came across the programme as Keane met a family of Welsh tenant hill farmers, struggling desperately to make ends meet. There is a real sense of a journalist giving space for those without a voice to speak out about the situation in which they find themselves, a sense of trying to understand without judgement and a desire to communicate the story and situation with compassion.
At the time I taped this, and over the last few years I have found myself pulling out the tape and re-watching it every so often. I'm not quite sure why, but I suspect it is both to do with my interest in the lives of others as well as in how we, or they, communicate their stories and attempt to increase understanding of an unfamiliar or misunderstood situation. I suspect my fascination also stems from a search for people who inspire me and give glimpses of attitude and approach to life that I can learn from.
I went and bought the book because I thought that Fergal Keane might be someone worth listening to.
"Valuable... Keane's findings carry uncomfortable soundings for Blair's Labour... [Keane] is a careful listener, a brave interloper, a clear communicator... he takes succour from the spirit of his interviewees"
Simon Garfield, Financial Times


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