Scotsman: devoted major resources to crisis
Edinburgh-based daily The Scotsman has led the way in highlighting the unfolding Sudan crisis as the first British newspaper to send a team there.
The paper has had a team in the country for more than two weeks and run a series of front pages and inside spreads on the issue.
Editor Iain Martin told Press Gazette he is surprised that events in west Sudan haven’t prompted more interest from the London-based press. He said: “When we were getting ready to send a team to the Sudan and we discussed it here in conference we were puzzled that it looked as though we were going to be the first British paper to send a team. And we kept thinking as they were making their way up there that we risked being beaten to it.
“But it doesn’t seem to have engaged people in the London media in the way that I think it deserves to, with the notable exception of the BBC which has led the 10pm news with it.
“Possibly that’s Iraq fatigue and crisis fatigue but it doesn’t change the facts of the story.”
He said: “Everybody has focused on Baghdad and the crisis there when there is, what the UN terms, the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world today unfolding in Africa.”
The conflict between ethnically-African rebel groups and pro-Government Arab militias is reported to have led to 10,000 being killed and one million people displaced. There are reports of atrocities committed by the Arab militias and fears that the conflict will lead to widespread starvation.
Martin explained why The Scotsman, which with a circulation of 68,178 is dwarfed by the London-based nationals, decided to devote so much resources to a foreign story.
He said: “I just thought, and other senior people in the team thought, that it was a huge story with enormous implications which for some odd reason was going virtually unreported.
“It was scattered across papers throughout the world as an occasional page lead and that was it.”
Gethin Chamberlain, journalist of the year at the Scottish Press Awards, and award-winning Scotsman photographer Ian Rutherford have been producing the newspaper’s Sudan coverage and were due to fly back to Scotland this week.
They have chronicled reports of atrocities committed by the pro-Government militia, the Janjaweed, and revealed that thousands of children are facing starvation.
In one headline The Scotsman called the Sudan crisis “the forgotten genocide”.
The Scotsman has invited readers to contribute to Unicef’s Children of Sudan Emergency Appeal.
By Dominic Ponsford