Regional papers query cost of war

The high cost of sending staff to cover the war in Iraq has been raised with the Ministry of Defence by the regional press.

At a meeting in London, editorial executives outlined the expense of equipping, training and insuring staff sent out to the Gulf.

Some claimed that too much equipment was required by the MoD, which was not put to any use by the journalists covering the conflict. In one case a journalist was told to buy a tent, even though he was stationed on a ship.

The equipment was said to have cost several thousand pounds and the training required also ran into four figures.

Insurance was very costly, in one case around £8,000 a week for a journalist, partly because the MoD required indemnity against possible damage to its equipment. Possible scenarios given by the MoD were that a newspaper could be liable if a journalist dropped a mobile phone or camera and caused damaged while travelling in a military helicopter.

A representative from the MoD who was at the meeting last week has promised to look into the papers’ concerns.

By Jon Slattery

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