Awards season

I am thrilled to report that several of the teams and individuals with whom I worked in 2014 have been nominated for a handful of awards.

During the summer of 2014, I was part of the BBC team on the ground in Gaza as the conflict there dramatically escalated.  On 17 July, Israeli troops launched an operation under the cover of darkness to cross the border into Gaza.  The same day, flight MH17 came down over Ukraine.  That evening, the BBC News at Ten lead on these two stories, with Lyse Doucet reporting live into the programme and Paul Adams and Yolande Knell providing live and continuous coverage to other BBC outlets.

I’m delighted to say that this bulletin has been nominated for a BAFTA in News Coverage.

The BBC’s Gaza coverage – which includes far too many people to mention, but all of whom I am delighted to call colleagues – has also been nominated for an RTS Award in International News Coverage.  A nomination of which our Gazan colleagues should be particularly delighted and for which they …

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I’m currently sitting in the south of France.  The sun is shining.  The air clear and welcoming.  I am fortunate to be able to spend time here.

This time last week, I was in Gaza.

Within 30 minutes of landing in Tel Aviv, the first rocket alarm went off – a stern warning in Hebrew, followed by a curt message in English ordering those just landed to head to the shelters.  Most people trudged obligingly in the signposted direction, a few stood rooted to the spot crying uncontrollably, apparently frozen by fear.  We were unable to fit into the first shelter.  It took five minutes to get to the next one, by which time we were told the alert was over and we could go back to our private vigils at the baggage carousels.

Rockets of any type are undoubtedly terrifying.  They are indiscriminate.

As we crossed from Israel into Gaza, we saw fire coming from both sides.  The Erez crossing to/from the Gaza Strip is far from user-friendly.   A labyrinth of turnstiles that must be negotiated are …

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Shrinking City

For a couple of days last week, I was asked to shoot a feature for the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme with the lovely Giles Dilnot and Joanne Hilditch at the helm.

Being able to spend a bit of time on a feature was a welcome change from some of the faster turnaround stuff I’ve been working on of late. However, what was most enjoyable was having a production team who were willing to take a bit of a punt when it comes to an aesthetic approach.

The increasingly squeezed budgets and time constraints on programme-makers are well documented, discussed and maligned. Often this runs alongside the growing pressure on the same teams to create a finished product with a strong ‘look’ or (frequently needlessly in my opinion) visual and narrative devices linking the whole thing together.

So for this piece on the upcoming roll out of ‘universal credit‘ to the UK population, Joanne had decided that she wanted some linking sequences of crowds and activity in central London utilising the ‘miniaturised world’ effect made …

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It’s taken me more than six months to contemplate starting this post.  This is not for any deeply emotive or shocking reasons.  What I am writing about is not particularly important, nor earth-shattering.  It is certainly self-indulgent and that doesn’t sit particularly comfortably with me, but that may only be partly the reason behind my hesitation.

For the past year, I have had a small photography site lurking in the depths of the internet.  I am unsure as to exactly why I built it, but suffice to say I’ve only shown this site to a few people.  Unsurprisingly, the feedback from my consistently supportive friends and family has been overwhelmingly positive.  They all said I should publicise the site a bit more.  It is after all, what I do for a living.  Or at the very least, an extension of this.  Sort of.  Maybe.

The site is still very much a work in progress and is mostly drawn from my personal and professional travels around North America.  The sets are not large, but this is deliberate.  I have just posted …

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Farewell, COI

Tomorrow the Central Office of Information quite literally closes its doors.

In a turn of a key, 66 years of government and public sector communication experience comes to an end.  To be replaced by, well who knows really?

Since the official announcement last June there has been much analysis and comment on the COI elsewhere in broadcast, print and online.  I had the pleasure of a long association with the COI as a freelance.  I can only write in a personal capacity.

I am profoundly sad.

The COI did not produce propaganda; it produced campaigns with a message and a purpose.  The Civil Service Code expressly forbade it from producing anything ‘Political’.  I was caught up in arguments with Whitehall politicos on exactly this point on more than one occasion.  If you excuse the rather Orwellian name, the belief that the COI was the epitome of nanny-state brainwashing is laughable, especially when you compare its output to some of the insidious and damaging advertising from today’s commercial brands.  The truth is the COI was …

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