The shots that shook their worlds in 50 years of news

As
ITN and ITV celebrate their half-century this week, viewers are being
asked to vote on what they consider to be the most powerful TV image
during that time. Press Gazette asked five TV journalists to nominate
the picture that had the most impact on them

Jon Snow, presenter, Channel 4 News The
assassination of John Kennedy? Man on the moon? No, at the end of the
day the seering telegenic image of our time – the shot that shook the
world – is inescapably 9/11. It’s still reverberating four years on.
Orchestrated by a man in a cave, it summoned every Hollywood
blockbuster terror sequence in one disaster, which none of us who saw
it live will ever forget. It has informed the world’s activities ever
since and will continue to do so. It was something that outflanked the
worst fiction had ever thrown at us and managed to outstrip even our
worst fears of what militants could throw at us. It unleashed war on
Iraq on an enormous scale. It divided the western community and led to
militant reprisals from Madrid to London.

Deborah Turness, editor of ITV News
The destroyed number 30 bus. It’s the most potent snapshot of terrorism
since 9/11. The iconic symbol of the day a great city and its people
were violated by a suicide bomber from Beeston.

It will forever jolt me back to the moment, to the very second, when I knew that Britain was under terrorist attack.

Just
after 9am that Thursday morning the newsroom had erupted into a state
of confusion… there were reports of a power surge on the tube network…
that it had caused collisions… explosions… underground.

We were
hearing that people, bloodied, soot-covered and terrified, were
beginning to emerge onto the streets from beneath the ground. The ITV
News Channel started broadcasting traffic-camera shots from high above
the scene at one station… we could see emergency vehicles… sirens…
chaos. But this was a power surge, the transport authorities kept
repeating, it was not, they said, a man-made disaster.

We
dispatched crews, reporters, satellite trucks and producers to the tube
stations we all knew so well. They were close by, many staff at ITN
used them every day. Mobile phones started going down.

Communications
with the people we’d dispatched were getting harder, and the “surge”
had even affected our own power supply. Equipment in key technical
areas was starting to fail, the back-up generators had kicked in. How
long would they keep us on-air? Yet, still London Underground insisted
that this was all caused by an electrical fault.

Then we got the call.

I
don’t remember now who picked-up the phone, or who it was that called
with the information. But I was standing within earshot when someone on
the newsdesk said “a double-decker bus has exploded in Tavistock
Square”. They said it twice – they had to. It was the moment that
everything changed.

Mark Austin, ITV News presenter
It’s certainly not the most iconic image in 50 years, but the story I
relate closest to is the astonishing rescues in Mozambique.

I
remember so clearly the day ITN cameraman Andy Rex and I flew over the
drowning town of Chokwe and the extraordinary scenes that greeted us.
Thousands of desperate people on rooftops, on sinking vehicles, in
trees or simply floundering in the floodwaters begging to be rescued.

The South African Air Force helicopter crews were astonishing… somehow plucking countless victims to safety.

Rex
managed to capture the scenes with a sharp eye and a steady hand. He
produced riveting, dramatic pictures that went a long way to persuading
people in Britain to donate millions of pounds to the Mozambique appeal.

Julian Manyon, ITV News correspondent
In more than 35 years as a journalist I have had the privilege of
covering many major international stories: the fall of Saigon, the
Iranian Revolution, the last death throes of the Soviet Union, the two
wars against Iraq. All of them had their iconic ‘shots’. However, I can
truthfully say that the most emotionally affecting, the one which still
haunts me more than a year later, was the massacre at the school in
Beslan.

Reporters covering the story suffered the shock of
anguish and disbelief not once, but several times: the moment we heard
the first explosions and sustained bursts of gunfire indicating that
all hope of a peaceful outcome had gone; the sight, while the fighting
still continued, of the smouldering gymnasium where the roof had
collapsed on the bodies of children, parents and teachers; and, for me
most affecting of all, the sight two days after the massacre of the
first small coffins being borne by relatives in what seemed like rivers
of grief to the town’s cemetery.

It was there that the enormity
of the horror broke through my reporter’s defences. I couldn’t stop
crying and had to spend some time on the other side of the road trying
to compose myself before I could report on what was happening. What
took place at Beslan was the savagery of one of the world’s most
vicious wars distilled into pure wickedness.

Sarah Smith, reporter and presenter, Channel 4 News
The remarkable thing about this shot of the Lockerbie disaster is how
the nose of the plane looks both massive, and incredibly vulnerable at
the same time. This huge hunk of metal, crumpled like a crisp bag on
the ground. It graphically demonstrated, for the first time, the
vulnerability of aircraft to acts of terrorism.

Many journalists who covered this story described far more gruelling sights than the smashed nose cone. Things that could never have been shown on television. But
the sight of this everyday object – in this horrifically extraordinary
context – seems particularly shocking. We see airplane noses all the
time. But never smashed to pieces on a Scottish hillside. You
can read the name of the plane, the Maid of the Seas, clearly on the
side. The terrorists had of course planned for it to explode over the
sea.

The bombing occurred just a few months before I began my
broadcasting career. But it is story that has never gone away in all
the time I’ve been a journalist. Even now, new doubts are still being
cast on the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al- Megrahi, and
conspiracy stories continue to circulate about who was really
responsible for this horrific act.The Shot That Shook the World will be
broadcast on 27 September at 9.45pm. For more information and to vote
visit www.itv.com/theshot

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