Archive for the ‘Student’ category

Staging Disorder // Beate Geissler, Geissler/Sann

Geissler Sann by Lewis Bush

From ‘Personal Kill’, Geissler/Sann, photographed by Lewis Bush.

LCC’s current showcase exhibition Staging Disorder runs until Thursday 12 March 2015, and features work by high-profile photographers and sound artists responding to ideas of modern conflict and the ‘real’.

We asked Beate Geissler of exhibiting duo Geissler/Sann to tell us more about the pair’s project ‘Personal Kill’.

Tell us a bit about the work you’re showing as part of Staging Disorder.

‘Personal Kill’ depicts interiors of so-called MOUT sites – training installations for Military Operations on Urban Terrain, used to teach close-range combat. The work references a book entitled ‘On Killing’ by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.

He writes, “In Vietnam the term ‘personal kill’ was used to distinguish the act of killing a specific individual with a direct-fire weapon and being absolutely sure of having done it oneself. The vast majority of personal kills and the resultant trauma occur at this range.”

The resulting trauma of a ‘personal kill’ is more severe than, for example, witnessing comrades or even family getting killed, since it is within the self that we find the source of the horror and not in the other. Something nobody can train an individual for.

Geissler Sann on right by Lewis Bush

‘Personal Kill’ by Geissler/Sann in Staging Disorder at LCC. Photographed by Lewis Bush.

What drew you to tackle the subject of staged conflict?

We were very interested in the simulating qualities of those training sites, their relation to reality and virtuality. The gamification and zombiefication that takes place, which is extending, bending and creating reality, was the focus of our research. It is a feeling like walking in a movie.

When we entered those tunnel systems, it felt like descending into the collective unconscious of western society. These are sites where soldiers are trained to pull the trigger on their opposite.

Friedrich Hegel describes the transition from natural being to social and cultural subject as a violent and traumatic one. He coined the term ‘night of the world’, which he defined as an irreducible dimension of the finitude of subjectivity.

It is the abyss of negativity, the night of the eye, glimpsed in the uncanny gaze of the Other. This is a form of imagination which is the radical negativity of arbitrary freedom.

What are you currently working on outside the College?

We just published a new book ‘Volatile Smile’, which investigates the impact of technology on systems of global commerce. We were interested in the mutual impact of real and cybernetic architecture, with Chicago as its archetype.

What made Chicago a centre of speculative culture — a culture which so rapidly emerged as the ‘non-place’ where cybernetic logic bears its strangest and perhaps most powerful fruits?

What do you think is the effect of holding an exhibition like this at LCC?

Maybe students get inspired, start to raise more questions and become aware that this culture of fear which was created in the last decades is something we need to change.

What advice would you give to current LCC students?

Don’t do shiny art for glossy people.

Beate Geissler is Associate Professor and Area Coordinator Photography, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Visit the Geissler/Sann website

Read more about Staging Disorder

The post Staging Disorder // Beate Geissler, Geissler/Sann appeared first on London College of Communication Blog.

Staging Disorder // Beate Geissler, Geissler/Sann

Geissler Sann by Lewis Bush

From ‘Personal Kill’, Geissler/Sann, photographed by Lewis Bush.

LCC’s current showcase exhibition Staging Disorder runs until Thursday 12 March 2015, and features work by high-profile photographers and sound artists responding to ideas of modern conflict and the ‘real’.

We asked Beate Geissler of exhibiting duo Geissler/Sann to tell us more about the pair’s project ‘Personal Kill’.

Tell us a bit about the work you’re showing as part of Staging Disorder.

‘Personal Kill’ depicts interiors of so-called MOUT sites – training installations for Military Operations on Urban Terrain, used to teach close-range combat. The work references a book entitled ‘On Killing’ by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.

He writes, “In Vietnam the term ‘personal kill’ was used to distinguish the act of killing a specific individual with a direct-fire weapon and being absolutely sure of having done it oneself. The vast majority of personal kills and the resultant trauma occur at this range.”

The resulting trauma of a ‘personal kill’ is more severe than, for example, witnessing comrades or even family getting killed, since it is within the self that we find the source of the horror and not in the other. Something nobody can train an individual for.

Geissler Sann on right by Lewis Bush

‘Personal Kill’ by Geissler/Sann in Staging Disorder at LCC. Photographed by Lewis Bush.

What drew you to tackle the subject of staged conflict?

We were very interested in the simulating qualities of those training sites, their relation to reality and virtuality. The gamification and zombiefication that takes place, which is extending, bending and creating reality, was the focus of our research. It is a feeling like walking in a movie.

When we entered those tunnel systems, it felt like descending into the collective unconscious of western society. These are sites where soldiers are trained to pull the trigger on their opposite.

Friedrich Hegel describes the transition from natural being to social and cultural subject as a violent and traumatic one. He coined the term ‘night of the world’, which he defined as an irreducible dimension of the finitude of subjectivity.

It is the abyss of negativity, the night of the eye, glimpsed in the uncanny gaze of the Other. This is a form of imagination which is the radical negativity of arbitrary freedom.

What are you currently working on outside the College?

We just published a new book ‘Volatile Smile’, which investigates the impact of technology on systems of global commerce. We were interested in the mutual impact of real and cybernetic architecture, with Chicago as its archetype.

What made Chicago a centre of speculative culture — a culture which so rapidly emerged as the ‘non-place’ where cybernetic logic bears its strangest and perhaps most powerful fruits?

What do you think is the effect of holding an exhibition like this at LCC?

Maybe students get inspired, start to raise more questions and become aware that this culture of fear which was created in the last decades is something we need to change.

What advice would you give to current LCC students?

Don’t do shiny art for glossy people.

Beate Geissler is Associate Professor and Area Coordinator Photography, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Visit the Geissler/Sann website

Read more about Staging Disorder

The post Staging Disorder // Beate Geissler, Geissler/Sann appeared first on London College of Communication Blog.

Two Halves // Viv Albertine and William Raban

Two Halves Viv William

Two Halves is a regular feature spotlighting two people connected by London College of Communication.

Our aim is to showcase the conceptual intentions, deeper thinking and personal insights that come with the creative process.

If you would like to nominate someone for Two Halves, please email Natalie Reiss (n.reiss@lcc.arts.ac.uk).

VIV ALBERTINE

“Apparently mature students always try and over-achieve, we know this may be our last chance.”

  • Last year I slept a lot, rehearsed my band and played lots of gigs.  The year before that I finished my book and was the lead in a feature film. Every year is different for me and amongst all that I bring up my daughter, which is very improvisational and creative.
  • I write prose every day, not sure what it’s going to turn into. I make notes for songs, I’ve done some drawings but mostly I travel Britain and Europe promoting my book with readings at literary festivals. I want to communicate to as many people as possible, it took three years to write and I am proud of it.
  • I went to LCC 1984-87 and I did BA (Hons) Film. It took me a few years to get a portfolio together after being the guitarist in the Slits. I was a mature student and working, teaching aerobics at the same time. As I’d been in the music industry for seven years, I found the essay writing part of the course very difficult at first, but by the second year I was ok and became a bit of a swot.  Apparently mature students always try and over-achieve, we know this may be our last chance. I was grateful to be there.
  • I am a great believer in exposing myself to other disciplines, different to the one I’m working in, it’s much more inspiring and your work is less derivative.
  • I found collaboration in film very difficult because it watered down the idea.  It was very difficult to keep it strong and stay close to your vision, each department diffused the initial idea, misinterpreted it or there wasn’t the money.
  • If you make work that is honest and faithful to yourself, it will never date. It is scary and painful to do and it may not be recognised as good work for many years but you have to choose if you want to be an artist or an entertainer.
  • I was embarrassingly honest and I had a nervous breakdown after I handed (my memoir) to the publisher.  I had no hopes for it at all. I thought I would be a pariah once people read it. That’s how you should always feel when you make work in my opinion. Like you’ve gone too far.
  • I’ve only done four things, three albums and a book (I could count the way I used to dress in the seventies as it was groundbreaking, political and creative) and they have all transcended who I am.
  • I’m a great believer in the ‘fallow field’, lying dormant until an idea becomes so compelling that you can’t keep it in anymore.  That’s my way of working.  I’d rather do a couple of good things in my life than churn out a load of mediocre work. I’m not a careerist.
  • We had no TV, no books, no social life and no telephone when I was growing up – all I could do was draw.  I was often bored so both drawing and fantasising were my escape and they stood me in good stead.  I never run out of ideas, but sometimes, I concentrate on other things like love.

Viv Albertine’s memoir is Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys.

https://twitter.com/Viv_Albertine

http://vivalbertine.com/

 

WILLIAM RABAN

“Dream space is crucially important to any creative process.”

  • I am William Raban, Professor of Film at LCC and most of my time is committed to research both in terms of making films, supervising research students and doing all I can to develop an active college-based research community.
  • I have just finished a 60-minute film (72-82) on the first ten years of Acme Studios that includes pioneering installation and performance works shown at the Acme Gallery (1976–1981).
  • Acme Studios commissioned the film and they approached me because I had been a part of their history in the 1970s and I had documented on film some of the installations and performances shown in the Acme Gallery.
  • When I made Thames Film (1986) I began by being inspired by TS Eliot’s Four Quartets and his view of the river as a ‘strong brown god’.  Later, I discovered the Brueghel painting Triumph of Death in the Prado, which became the means for holding the film together.  It came to me in a dream where I saw the painting to the slowed down sound of Bach’s Matthew’s Passion, which is featured on the soundtrack. And of course, 72-82 is largely informed by artists who worked in painting, sculpture, installation and performance art.
  • The way I started making films in the early 70s invariably was a solitary process but I now depend upon help with specialist areas such as editing and sound.  I have collaborated with David Cunningham for the last 18 years on my soundtracks and he is brilliant to work with.  He is often quite critical of my ideas and I like that degree of resistance in the collaborative process.
  • The films about London and the River Thames have all been inspired either by being out on the river in a small boat or by walking the streets of London and just observing what goes on.  I find life on the streets so fascinating that I am not really interested in the artifice of a film studio.
  • LCC constantly surprises me. I have been here since 1996 but today I discovered the Heidelberg press in the printing department.  Whilst I have a pretty good idea about what goes on in the School of Media, I look forward to discovering more treasures in the Design School.
  • [On his first piece of art] I would say it was a large oil painting that I made when I was 17 – a view of the River Test in Southampton looking towards the distant Fawley oil refinery.  I got the paint to do what I wanted at the time but as I became older, I rejected its mimetic representation of a landscape and I am pleased to say it no longer exists – the paint having gradually fallen off through having been placed over the rising heat from my parents’ fireplace.
  • Island Race (1996), which was incredibly hard to finish because of its focus on the rise of the BNP.  I nearly gave up and am glad I didn’t because I think it remains a valuable document of that febrile time in east London.
  • Dream space is crucially important to any creative process. I have several ideas about what to make next but I am in a space where I need to dream the next idea.

William Raban is Professor of Film at London College of Communication.

http://www.arts.ac.uk/research/research-staff/a-z/professor-william-raban

http://www.lux.org.uk/collection/artists/william-raban

http://www.acme.org.uk/commissions/williamrabanfilm

The post Two Halves // Viv Albertine and William Raban appeared first on London College of Communication Blog.

UAL in the USA

Boris Johnson

Researchers at Google have revealed that UAL is one of the most popular overseas universities for US students. Google’s research shows UAL is the ninth most searched for university among US students looking to study overseas. Google’s education team analysed US internet searches during 2014, and found that six of the ten most searched for subjects by US students looking to study overseas are arts/creative subjects. The research also found that fashion is the second most searched for course, with London College of Fashion among the most highly searched specialist institutions. London tops Google’s poll of the most searched for city by US students looking to study abroad.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced the research findings during his trade mission to the US, aimed at strengthening economic and cultural ties between London and the US. In his speech Boris singled out UAL for special praise, referencing UAL’s move to Stratford and our key role as one of the leading cultural and educational providers in the capital.

Museum of the City of New York

A delegation from UAL is currently visiting the States for a series of education events, including the inauguration of the New York UAL alumni group. American students make up the fourth largest international group studying at the University.

Read about the launch of UAL’s East Coast alumni group

Discover more about UAL’s American alumni groups

Read more about the Google research in the London Evening Standard

New MyArts: launch this week

MyArts launch

The current MyArts pages are being replaced by a new easy-to-navigate intranet. From Thursday 19 February, the MyArts login screen will load when you open any web browser on a UAL computer or visit http://my.arts.ac.uk/ from other devices or locations.

If you visit MyArts before Thursday, you can still follow the link to try the MyArts beta site and tell us what you think.

A single point of access to information you need

The new MyArts is a single point of access to systems and sites that you use every day such as Moodle, your timetable and the library catalogue.

A student view of UAL

It will also be a gateway to all your student-focused information, displaying news and events and allowing you to access information from your own college and across the university.

Your feedback matters

Get in touch via the feedback form on MyArts or email the Internal Communication team via myarts@arts.ac.uk to tell us what you think or if you have questions.

New Course Discourse // MA Television

David Hoyle image

Course Leader David Hoyle

As our New Course Discourse series continues, we ask LCC Course Leader David Hoyle to tell us about the brand new MA Television.

Can you tell us a bit about what this course will focus on?

A huge area of television programming is broadly called factual programming. It covers everything from serious journalistic current affairs programming right through to what the BBC calls factual entertainment.

MA Television students will come and learn how those programmes are made. We’re looking for people who have ideas for those sorts of programmes, or who want to work in that vast programming area. It’s strictly television, strictly factual, but there could be drama – for example re-enactments in history programmes. It’s a very broad brush.

How is the course constructed?

Everything in the course revolves around programme-making; students will make four programmes of increasing length and complexity. But wrapped around the programme-making are a series of approaches that look at the business of programme-making from different points of view.

We look at them as business assets, so students will learn how to raise money, how to manage budgets, and how to exploit the assets that they’ve made. So there’s a sort of business/commercial/management aspect to programme-making.

Then we look at the history, the philosophy of factual programme-making, largely in the UK but not only here, and we will invite lots of models from different countries if we have students from other programme-making nations.

So we’ll look at them from the economic point of view, from a philosophical point of view, and also slightly from the political point of view. We do ask students to think about what sort of messages these programmes send, and just go some way into what’s called “cultivation theory” – a way of looking at programmes from their effect on maintaining or presenting the status quo of society.

So students will end up being confident programme-makers, but also with a very advanced understanding of the whole context in which they’re working.

The other thing I’d add is that it will be fun! People will have a year of intensive hands-on programme-making in teams, closely supervised and guided all the time, of course, but it should really be a joyful experience; a whole year of doing nothing but making programmes in the heart of the European programme-making industry.

LCC_Film_Television_Show_PV_BFI_12_06_2014_by_Ana_Escpbar_021

LCC film and television students and guests attend their final showcase screening at BFI Southbank

How does this postgraduate programme differ from undergraduate study in television?

It differs from undergraduate programmes in two ways, I suppose. In that people are expected to contextualise the programmes that they make, and certainly think of them as commercial objects, but also in the fact that we will be making programmes of a higher quality. By the end of the second term, we will have people making programmes of full broadcast standard.

All of this leads at the end to a major project in which people make programmes but support them with a business plan, so that they can prove to a broadcaster how they would generate income, or if they made them independently how they would set up and sustain an independent production company – which is one very major objective of the course.

Why should applicants choose to study here at LCC?

The core of the School of Media – from my point of view anyway! – is the television studio. It’s a completely state-of-the-art, professional standard TV studio, and all the programmes that students make on the MA will have a TV studio element.

So there are the facilities that we have here, but there’s also LCC’s unique and very special location. We are 10 or 15 minutes away from the heart of European television programme-making, and I always remind students that more film is shot in London in a day than in the whole of Hollywood in a year.

We’re looking continually for liaisons with commercial production companies, and one option the students on the MA will have is actually to make their programmes to a live brief. So that means that they’ll be encouraged very strongly to seek out commissioning editors or production companies that are looking for work to be made. They’ll be able to make that here, and be assessed for it. Obviously that’s a very potent gateway into the world of work.

What’s also important is the sum total of the School of Media. One of the units in the course is a formally collaborative unit, and we already have arrangements in place to work with the MA Arts and Lifestyle Journalism students. They have to produce a moving image piece, so there’s a very obvious and fruitful symbiosis between those two courses.

But in the College as a whole we also have photographers, animators, illustrators, designers – all sorts of people with skills that fit perfectly with programme-making. And then, of course, we have the University – we have set designers at Wimbledon, costume makers at LCF and so on. People on this course would be strongly encouraged and helped to form collaborative relationships formally and informally with people in the School of Media and across the University as a whole.

students filming

LCC students at work

What is the course is looking for in its students?

Applicants for the course can be people with a good honours degree in film and television production or a related subject – that’s the obvious one. We would also be interested in people with good honours degrees in other subjects, for example economics, journalism, law, business. Almost anything, really, if it’s accompanied by a demonstrable, informed interest in television.

We’d also be very interested in talking to people who may not have a degree but have worked in the film and television or related industries for a little while – maybe four or five years – and, again, in the interview can demonstrate an informed interest in television.

And fourthly, we would still be very interested in talking to people who don’t have that television experience and might not necessarily have a degree in any subject at all, but again can show a burning, passionate, informed interest in television, and who we think will be able to contribute to the life of the course.

The first term and a half of the course are very much about getting people up to speed in programme-making, and it’s quite intensive in that respect. So by halfway through the course, we will have a cohort of highly competent programme-makers. After that point, other skills and experience and knowledge that they can bring to bear will become increasingly valuable, really, so a lawyer or a journalist or a scientist at that stage would be incredibly useful.

What sorts of careers can graduates from MA Television move into?

If you open your TV guide and look at any day of the week – more the week than the weekend but even there – you’ll find programmes on history, science, travel, holidays, home decoration, cookery – a whole range of informative programmes that are also entertaining. They are the staple, really, of most broadcasters’ output in most if not all countries in the world – they fill the schedules.

People graduating from this course can set up their own small production companies to propose and hopefully make this sort of programme, or they can go and work for those companies – there are lots of them – who specialise in this broad area of factual programming.

But it also gives access to web-delivered materials, to non-broadcast materials, to even corporate production. Any sort of programming, really, that has got some informative purpose.

Visit the MA Television course page

Read David Hoyle’s staff profile

The post New Course Discourse // MA Television appeared first on London College of Communication Blog.

Green Week: Fixing Fashion – Repair is the New Black

Bridget Harvey, Jumper: Fixing Fashion - Repair is the New Black.

Bridget Harvey, Jumper: Fixing Fashion – Repair is the New Black.

 

For UAL Green Week 2015, Bridget Harvey, CCW PhD student in the Textile Futures Research Centre (TFRC), invites you to experiment with mending your clothes and other textiles: customising them and fixing damage through patching, darning and adding new buttons.

In the UK we send over £200m of clothes to landfill each year. Mending can help keep these textiles in circulation, and help us love our clothes for longer. Learn hands-on skills for clothes mending – darning, patching and other small and simple mends. All the techniques can be done by hand, no previous skills or experience necessary.

Along with plenty of enthusiasm, all you need to bring with you are scrap fabrics or clothes with holes, stains, missing buttons etc!

Fixing Fashion | Repair is the New Black is part of Green Week 2015.

Friday 13 February
11:00 – 16:00
1st Floor – D1 Corridor
Central Saint Martins

Further information & contact:   Bridget Harvey website

Vacancies in Halls of Residence for all students

We currently have vacancies at Glassyard Building London Student Accommodation and The Costume Store!

If you’re currently a UAL student or studying a UAL short course then get in touch with the accommodation team at  accommodation@arts.ac.uk  or calling  (0)20 7514 6240. The minimum stay is three weeks.

Costume Store

 

UAL cuts cost of colour printing

The cost of colour printing across the University will be reduced from Friday 13 February. The cost for A3 one-sided colour printing will be 50 pence (reduced from 75 pence) and one-sided A4 colour printing will be 25 pence (reduced from 50 pence).

These reductions have been made possible by improvements to our technical infrastructure that have allowed us to bring down the cost of colour printing at all UAL sites.

Philip Broadhead, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to reduce the charges for colour printing across the University. I am aware that this issue has been raised by students in every college. I’m also grateful to the teams who have worked together to ensure that we have been able to resolve the technical issues and bring down costs.”

Olivia Wells, studying for an MA at London College of Fashion, said: “This is good news, a very positive thing.”

The move to cut the costs of colour printing follows on from measures at Central Saint Martins to resolve some longstanding problems with the online payment system. All colleges now use the latest PCounter technology.

Philip added: “The next phase of the printing development at UAL will involve streamlining all of our printing services and suppliers, so that as an organisation we can ensure we are receiving the best printing at the right price.”

Journalism Guest Speaker Review // Simon McGregor-Wood, Al Jazeera

Al-Jazeera

Al Jazeera’s Simon McGregor-Wood recently spoke to LCC Journalism students about the challenges and excitements of reporting from the Middle East. BA (Hons) Journalism student Luke O’Driscoll reports.

Simon McGregor-Wood is a broadcast journalist with over 25 years experience, nine of those working as ABC News’ Middle East Correspondent, as well as the news division’s Middle East Bureau Chief.

He came to LCC to give a talk about his experiences as a foreign correspondent, the difficulty of maintaining balance and objectivity and the changing nature of reporting news from war zones.

His time in the Middle-East, where he was based in Jerusalem, was characterised by the on-going Israeli/Palestine conflict in which he witnessed many of its defining events of the past decade including: “the second intifada, the battle between Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon, the emergence of Hamas, the occasional wars with Hezbollah and the spill over effect of the US-led invasion of Iraq, the growth of Jewish settlements and the Israeli right wing and the decline of Gaza.” On top of this he also had “responsibility for covering Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.”

Simon-McGregor-Wood-029-300x200.fw

LCC guest speaker Simon McGregor-Wood

Simon left Israel in 2011, just before the Arab Spring, and today he works as a freelance journalist for Al-Jazeera in Europe and the Middle East with a working schedule that sounds just as hectic: “I travel widely across Europe covering breaking news and features. I spent the New Year for example in Italy covering the Greek ferry which caught fire, and I stayed there to cover the arrival of Syrian migrants. I’m currently working on a story about the fourth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, on Thursday I’m covering a foreign office conference on extremism, and then this weekend I will be in Auschwitz to cover next week’s 70th anniversary of its liberation.”

The importance, Simon advises, of “a proper foreign assignment is a chance to get to grips with the story and to gain real understanding of your subject. It’s a chance to gain expertise, something I think it’s important for journalists to do at some point in their career.”

Whilst the appeal of being a foreign correspondent is obvious, and something he says he is a proponent of, he acknowledges the changing face of foreign affairs reportage: “Good well-paid jobs are increasingly rare in a world dominated by freelancers like me and people on short-term contracts.

“A foreign correspondent has the luxury of time. He or she must know more than his or her editor – more than the editor reads in their morning newspaper or hears on their radio bulletin in the morning. Your role is to immerse yourself in the place you’re covering. To understand the context behind the stories of the day.”

When broaching the subject of objectivity in the field he explains: “you have to be able to provide reporting that nobody else but you can provide, you must do this whilst maintaining your objectivity and balance and this is nowhere more true than in the Middle East and nowhere more true than in reporting the core of Middle East conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Possibly the most scrutinised story there is.”

The value of which, Simon notes, cannot be downplayed: “Managing your personal views on a story like this is hard but crucial!

“Where your Israeli and Palestinian colleagues may carry a natural bias you must steer a course through that and through torrents of opinion and propaganda. Personal sympathies must always be tempered by self-criticism and analysis.”

Maintaining these standards, however, is not always straightforward and there is a struggle faced by foreign correspondents: “One of the biggest challenges in the Middle East is navigating between two very well rehearsed narratives and avoiding the manipulation of both sides. There are two opposing versions of an historical dispute, two sets of people – well educated if not brainwashed into their version of the truth where even the children in Palestinian refugee camps or Jewish settlements are fluent in the discourse of their narrative.

“Furthermore help carries the risk of manipulation. Are you going to be able to get somewhere without the help of the Israeli army? What price do you pay if you accept their facilitation? How far does help corrupt your reporting?”

The showing of radical views in the Middle East is also something Simon is more than aware of: “This is also a story dominated by the extremists and too often they’re the only voices you hear. There are Israelis and Palestinians who like each other and who at least want to sit down together. And they are rarely heard. As journalists, is it our job to seek them out?”

The discourse of political language is another factor the Al Jazeera journalist believes budding foreign correspondents need to be wary of: “This is a story where even language carries the potential for bias. What do you call a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem? Do you call it Jerusalem occupied?

“Some American newspapers I have noticed have started to call East Jerusalem settlements contested neighbourhoods. What does that do? Whose interests does that serve? Whose language are you using? Are you undermining a report by politicising your language? If you refuse to use one side’s terminology does that necessarily mean you support the other side? Is there ever a perfect middle way? Is there ever a perfect word?”

This on-going self-evaluation and self-critique is something Simon refers to throughout his talk, the importance of which is made evidently clear by his experience and strength as a reporter.

“Personal sympathies must always be tempered by self-criticism and analysis. How best to develop trustworthy sources on both sides? How to avoid being tarnished with perceptions of institutional bias because you work for an American network or because you work for Al Jazeera? In the Middle East your greatest solace are the pillars of your professional standards, objectivity and balance.”

When questioned about the future for prospective foreign correspondents wishing to cover conflict in the Middle East his response is ominous: “I think one of the big problems today is that outlets, whatever their media, are in danger of exploiting young freelancers who want to get into the business, who want to go [to the Middle East]. And often you hear horrific stories of photographers who find themselves in somewhere like Syria or Lebanon or Iraq and they’re not necessarily being paid properly, they’re being paid on what they are able to provide, they don’t necessarily have the right experience, they have no backup and they are being exploited.

“While I can understand the instincts of wanting to be there, in this fractured world of young people trying to get into the business, it’s a very dangerous temptation. I think people need to be very careful. There are too many young freelancers getting killed and it’s costing the outlets practically nothing.”

He puts this largely down to the huge economic shift journalism has seen over past decade stating “the financial model of what we [journalists] do has changed beyond recognition. Twenty years ago at the BBC or ABC or ITN, if you went to cover a war, the first thing is there was a lot of experienced people who had done it before and there was the resources to do it properly, to mitigate some of the risk.”

Despite this, the longstanding journalist believes there is a future for foreign correspondents, with “foreign news [being] something I would recommend to anyone.”

You can follow Simon on twitter @simonmcgw and find out more about him through his website http://www.simonmcgregorwood.co.uk

Words by Luke O’Driscoll

Read more about BA (Hons) Journalism

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