Thursday 15 March 2018

Katya Adler on reporting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Here's what the BBC's Europe Editor Katya Adler had to say recently to Paul Blanchard of Media Masters about her days as a BBC Middle East correspondent:
Katya Adler: What I do like very much with my colleagues here, and I enjoyed that so much when I was in the Middle East, we had a bureau full of lively debate, and that was so important. At the time – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict now has disappeared largely from the airwaves actually, it doesn’t get the attention that it used to – but while I was there it was still front and centre. We had Palestinian producers in the office, we had Israeli producers in the office, we had staff that had come from London, people who were more experienced in the Middle East, people who were less experienced in the Middle East, and we would have these huge debates about coverage, and about words, because if you remember when Israel built a barrier between Israel and the West Bank, what do you call it? Do you call it a fence? What do the people of Bethlehem say when they’ve got great huge concrete wall in front of them? That’s not a fence, that’s a wall. Is it a wall in its entirety? No, it’s not. Okay, is it a barrier, then? Ah, okay, so maybe barrier is a more neutral word. Then the Israelis would call it a security barrier. But then that gives a certain…
Paul Blanchard: It’s emotionally loaded.
Katya Adler: Very much. So I found that discussion intellectually very interesting, just as much as I thought I would have enjoyed being a lawyer trying to have those rules and use them to the argument you want to make. And my role in the Middle East was what we call live and continuous, and that is a minefield in the Middle East. That’s a very tricky job to have in the Middle East, because every word is scrutinised. It really is what you say and how you say it, and there are websites dedicated to the BBC and what we say. And so to go live when something just happened in Lebanon or Syria or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a risk. But it was thrilling, because I had to know my stuff. I had to know it.

1 comment:

  1. "But it was thrilling, because I had to know my stuff."

    Not enough to know when not to say something stupid.

    As a subsequent MM interviewee, Sarah Sands, may also find out.


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