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Book Review: Reliving Covid through the eyes of journalists

26th Feb 2021
Book Review: Reliving Covid through the eyes of journalists

Reporting Coronavirus: Personal Reflections on a Global Crisis from ITV News Journalists edited by Marion Burns, Pp 275, ITV Ventures. £18.99

Reporting Coronavirus is a backstage pass on the biggest stories of our lives, a collection of personal essays by ITV journalists as the most momentous story developed on their news desks. From seasoned broadcasters, foreign correspondents to trainee journalists; each essay shines a different light on the story. It’s like watching a familiar film that plays out in slow motion with the curtains lifted throughout the performance.

Chronologically arranged, the book begins with essays penned by journalists on ground zero, such as Asia correspondent Debi Edward. She flew to Wuhan and then back to Beijing as the clampdown began towards the end of January 2020. She got to witness how the small ripple became a tsunami that changed our world.

The first few essays were the perspectives of monumental events beyond our borders, when we, in the UK, were not paying enough attention to the story. John Ray, a correspondent mentions, ‘Walking down the aisle between the rows of passengers, I have a clear memory; every Asian face seemed to wear a mask; none of the Westerners did.’ (p14) His vivid memory highlighted the difference between the way Asians and Westerners, perceived and dealt with, the threat of the virus.

The preparedness of the Asian states was, in large part, due to the 2003 outbreak of SARS, which killed 300 people in three weeks in Hong Kong, the 2005 H5N1 bird flu and the 2007 Swine flu.

All three viruses were earmarked to be the next big pandemic. Science Editor Tom Clarke said, ‘The world suffers cycles of flu pandemics every 10 to 20 years. Yet, we hadn’t had a new global flu outbreak since 1968 — a pandemic was long overdue.’ (p26)

These nuggets of information were embedded in personal accounts of how the lives of news correspondents changed as Covid-19 took over their lives.

As the disease progressed into the UK the accounts of the journalists and presenters in the country painted a very familiar picture, as we have all lived through what they had seen and what they brought to our television screens over the courses of lockdowns.

Their struggles, of managing caregiving responsibilities and shielding if above the age of 70 were well-known and didn’t shift any paradigms. The accounts presented are a revolving kaleidoscope of stories interwoven to paint a far more complete image of how the pandemic was reported within the UK.

These well-written essays give a personal, UK based backdrop to the international story. What makes this book stand out was the international perspective of the story in its early days before it became a fixture on our televisions, about far-off lands, made closer to us than we had ever fathomed.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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