Television networks doubt Gaza return

The BBC has suggested it may never send journalists back to Gaza in the wake of Alan Johnston’s kidnapping – while other news organisations have said they will review the situation on a day-by-day basis.

The region will continue to be classed in the same category as high-risk areas such as Iraq and Somalia, despite a settling down period under Hamas rule.

After Johnston’s release BBC director of news Helen Boaden said: “We’ll have to be very, very careful about how quickly we put anyone back in Gaza – if we ever do again.”

Adrian Wells, head of foreign news at Sky News, said the Gaza situation continued to change overnight, but he added: “No one assumes that we will be going back in because some kind of order has been established under Hamas.”

Wells said that for Sky both Iraq and Somalia had no-go areas for its reporters.

“In Iraq there are no-go areas one feels very nervous about going into. For me we have a no-go area in Somalia because the cost benefit analysis of going into Somalia is pretty thin in my view. It really isn’t worth dying for.”

He said the situation in Iraq would most likely deteriorate rather than improve. “Even now, in Baghdad, the green zone is becoming a no-go area so the prognosis is not good and I’m not sure any one of us has come up with all the answers about how we cover these no-go areas because they are becoming bigger rather than smaller. It is troubling because no-go areas are very news worthy.”

Kevin Sutcliffe, deputy editor of news and current affairs at Channel 4, agreed that each region needed to be reviewed, often on a day-to-day basis and that Somalia had been the latest no-go zone in the past six months.

ITN international editor Bill Neely said the situation remained unpredictable. “The people who would kill or kidnap you are there all the time.

You might sit in Basra in a restaurant and consider yourself safe because Basra isn’t Baghdad, until the moment you are kidnapped and then the whole world knows Basra isn’t safe. We have to take it on a case-by-case basis and assume the worst.”

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