The Perils of Journalism: Kidnap, Disease, Dehydration

16 Nov

Eamonn Matthews. LLEWELLYN 2010

BAFTA Award winner and the man behind Dispatches and Unreported World visited Westminster today to discuss his pursuit for truthfulness.

Eamonn Matthews, director of Quiksilver, described some of his most remarkable achievements including reporting on Newsnight on the outbreak of the Gulf War and his involvement in the remarkable ‘Terror in Mumbai’.


Eamonn told us the four main ingredients for a good documentary: Characters, secret filming, narrative and images.

Above all, a journalist has a “duty to tell the truth” and be “really interesting in humans”.

“Give people who are accused of things the chance to stand up for themselves.”


In such competitive times, we have to have brilliant ideas to impress. “Good ideas” seem to be the golden ticket, so to speak. ‘Terror In Mumbai’ offered all the four main ingredients.

The Dispatches episode, which won the BAFTA award for Current Affairs had the scoop on interrogation videos, interviews with victims and murderers, and presented a story which was relevant; terrorism.

The episode showed the 10 gunmen who were commissioned to enforce a bloody attack on innocent people in Mumbai for the sake of extremism.

We are able to see the tapes of the gunman speaking to his master, asking what to say to the press.

“Say this is just the trailer, the film is yet to come”, the voice hauntingly replied.

Eamonn revealed how the team were able to get their hands on the tapes, “we got the tapes through straight forward journalism, nothing mysterious about it”.


Whilst the job is clearly rewarding, Eamonn matter of factly described the downfalls.

“The thing that kills journalists is car crashes! They could be running for a scoop on a bumpy African road and WHAM!

“Disease… dehydration… Kidnapping’s a big problem. Journalists are a target”.

Eamonn added, “Most reporters are robust but it can get you down. It goes with the job”.

He modestly compared it with a doctor’s job, describing how much strain they go through without complaining.

“An aeroplane set off today and landed safely”, just wouldn’t make the news.

Above all, journalists shouldn’t be propagandists, “we leave that up to the Government PR department”, said Eamonn.

“We are not interested in the pornography of violence. We are here to make the world a better place by delivering the truth.”


“Television can take you to a place and make you feel as though your there”, said Eamonn.

Eamonn said, “for television, you need to have the x ingredient. Some people have it, some people don’t'”. He most definitely has it.

As other guest speakers have confirmed, Eamonn repeated those dreaded words, “the industry is in recession. There are very few jobs out there.”

 His final thought for budding journalists: Whatever you do, do it brilliantly!

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