Monday, 23 May 2011

Inspiration Identified

This is my 100th post on this blog and the 74th consecutive post, both much higher numbers than i realised i was at, but both similarly pleasing. As 100 is a bit of a milestone i thought i'd devote it to writing about a few of my inspirations; the people who either made me want to become a journalist in the first place, i've discovered along the way and been inspired by or who are emerging now and producing work that any journalist should aspire to.

First up are two journalists whose expertise lies in foreign affairs, who have written about and challenged some of the biggest issues in the past 30 years and who have a habit of being very angry with the state of the world. They are Robert Fisk and John Pilger.

I regularly read Fisk's articles in The Independent as his expertise and passion for the Middle East and the people living there is engaging and informative; he lives in Lebanon and has witnessed first hand many of the wars, political coups and daily struggles of the people living there and in the surrounding countries. I don't always agree 100% with what he writes or the way he views the world but i see that as a good thing; a journalist you without fail agree with is nowhere near as interesting as one who challenges you and will occasionally be arguing from a point of view very different from your own.

As for Pilger i've read a couple of his books where he collects together a number of his investigations; my particular favourite being his work on Diego Garcia, a short essay on which can be found here. I've also watched a couple of his television documentaries and have seen him speak live and though he comes across as an angry cynic, he also gives the depressing impression that his cynicism is born out of experience rather than a natural attitude; he's seen too many governments acting immorally and failing their people to be otherwise.

Another journalist i have a lot of time for is Louis Theroux. As with Pilger i've read a couple of his books and watched several of his documentaries and am always impressed with how he manages to deal with serious issues in an entertaining but not trivialising way. His interview techniques are brilliant, somehow disarming some of the most guarded and violent people on earth into talking to him quite openly. It's through his interviews you often get to see a human side to people that have previously only been caricatured in the press. I'd definitely recommend the documentary on BBC Iplayer currently, the first of a 2 part look at Miami County Jail, investigating the floors where some of the most violent inmates are held and where a culture of violence seems to openly rule.

The final journalist i want to write about in this post is someone who probably doesn't even consider herself one; however she's a prime example of the positive side of citizen journalism and a real inspiration for me in both the stories she writes and the bravery she writes with. I've posted a link to her blog before but i feel that Amina Abdullah deserves the world's attention for writing so passionately, honestly and frequently from inside Syria about the unrest currently gripping the country. Click on this link, have a read of the latest posts, bookmark it and if you want to, leave her a comment to know that people all over the world are reading of the struggle she and the people of Syria are going through for rights and opportunities we take for granted. She is just one of the many citizen bloggers and twitterers who are telling the world about what is going on in the Arab world, about the daily fight for democracy, but she is one who is particularly engaging both in the stories she tells and the way she tells them.

Obviously there are many other journalists who inspire me in many different ways but those 4 would probably be top of my list in terms of the impact they have on my own aspirations and intentions.

Today's song is off an album i was really into at the turn of the year but for some reason hadn't listened to for a few months before i stumbled across it again today and now i'm wondering why it took me so long. (Apologies if you have to put up with an advert before it plays, i'm not sure how the Youtube videos with that setting will work while embedded.)

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