« I read the Correspondent blog every morning around 3:05 »
What does the Correspondent blog mean for you?
The blog is a way of following a story from a different viewpoint. What gives it its power is the use of the first-person and the reporter's subjectivity. This is a crucial perspective to have because, although we always talk about neutrality, it is a complete myth in my opinion. Whenever one reports from the ground, one speaks from a point of view, whatever it may be. I am a journalist, I was a reporter for many years and I know what that means. When I read an article, I can pretty well see how it was written and how the information was obtained. But the reader or listener does not necessarily have the ability to understand that context.
What does this journalists' blog offer you in concrete terms?
It's an innovative and useful tool. Apart from the first-person narrative, the blog offers perspective, reporters tell you what happened behind the scenes. The fact that photos play such a prominent role gives it considerable depth. Immediately, there is a different scope. In radio, we need images and this blog gives us some superb ones. And it is great that the photos are showcased in text by the people that took them! Afterwards, we need to describe the image and be fairly precise so that the listeners can visualise it.
Do you think the blog has the same power for the general public?
The Correspondent blog postings say something about a particular moment somewhere in the world. Discovering what happened behind the scenes of this event is a real bonus for the listener, who is bombarded with information that often lacks perspective and is not presented to them in the right order. Even if it is put in the right order, the rule tends to be 'the farther away it happens, the less we speak about it'… which is why it is important to talk about the topics covered by AFP's blog. Personally, I think that the testimony from journalists covering the devastation from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico can come through to people listening to me on the radio.
How do you use the posts in your press review?
I have a little routine. I look at the blog every morning around 3:05am to see if there is anything new there. Whatever happens, I read it. It has become a habit. On my list of publications, it comes just after the national and regional press. When I find a post that interests me, I note it down. If a report really makes an impression on me, I do my best to quote from it, even if it is not one of my main topics. That said, many things get sacrificed in the press review. I find myself having to put aside a lot of things. That is true for articles, cartoons, reports that I had intended to mention.
Have any posts made a particular impression on you?
I can think of several immediately, like the one written by a former correspondent in Bosnia, herself Bosnian-Croat (Sonia Bakaric, a journalist now based in Paris who covered the Yugoslavia conflict). Her story was extremely powerful. I think of the listeners: on a subject as complicated as this, such an honest and frank testimony gives the listener a much better understanding of the situation than a report from the International Criminal Tribunal. No matter who the listener may be, you have to get straight to the heart of the matter because it is 08:30 and he or she has just got up. I also remember a post about how difficult daily life is for journalists in Afghanistan, a country we never speak about. It allowed me to recall that there are people on the ground, some of them living under constant risk and that the press is not just columnists and editorial-writers.
« In radio, we need images and this blog gives us some superb ones. And it is great that the photos are showcased in text by the people that took them!" »
As a journalist, what more would you like to see from the blog?
I have not really thought about that. But if you were going to widen its editorial scope, it would be interesting to take a look at general news topics, how journalists cover this sort of news, what they think when they photograph people who open their doors to them … without lurching into voyeurism of course. There is also climate change and environmental disaster. These are difficult to photograph and illustrate and that could be worth a story from a reporter. But I love what I find on the blog, emotion that takes us away from the purely factual. Expressing emotion is not a crime in journalism. Sometimes emotions are used in a trashy way but here it always tells you something and it is not over the top.
« If a report really makes an impression on me, I do my best to quote from it, even if it is not one of my main topics. That said, many things get sacrificed in the press review »