US 'short-changed' on world coverage

The US media has short-changed its audience by cutting back on its international coverage, according to Chris Cramer, president of CNN International Networks.

It had taken the events of 11 September to remind much of the media of its public-service responsibility, he said.

"Before then, for years before then, we have been seeing a very disturbing trend of news organisations slashing back on international coverage.

"Much of the US media has short-changed its audience in explaining why they should give a damn about the outside world," said Cramer.

"Well now the audience does give a damn and they are puzzled and angry that they were so ill-informed."

Speaking at the Rory Peck Awards for freelance cameramen and women last week, he said the next few months would be a "testing time" for broadcasters. "There’s no textbook, no newsgathering A to Z, for how we cover something as momentous as this."

Winner of the new Sony-sponsored International Impact Award, which recognises work that has had a significant impact on world opinion, was Talal Abu Rahma, for his footage of the shooting of the Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Durah when he and his father were caught up in fighting between Palestinians and Israelis in September 2000.

Rahmeh, a journalist for 14 years, said filming the boy’s death "was the saddest moment of my life".

The Hard News Award was won by Hedley Trigge, for a film shot in Oldham during the summer riots. Trigge had gone to the town while covering the election after BBC correspondent Gavin Hewitt was told the British National Party and National Front were planning to be there.

"We thought we would just go and have a look at it, see what was happening," said Trigge. "We knew when we saw the mounted police and the riot shields that it would be heavy duty, that it wouldn’t be throw a stone here and there."

The judges said Trigge’s work was "consistently outstanding" and described him as "a consummate professional despite difficult circumstances".

The two other finalists were Hazem Jamil Bader and Khaled Zighari, who both filmed in Jerusalem. Zighari filmed Ariel Sharon’s visit to Temple Mount and the subsequent clashes between Muslims and Israeli riot police. Bader showed the violence in the following days.

The winner of the Features Award was a cameraman who risked his life secretly filming for four years in his native North Korea. The 28-year-old, who uses the pseudonym ‘Ahn Chol’ to protect his identity, filmed during regular trips to North Korea after moving to China two years ago following the death of his parents. The Hardcash/ Asia Press Collective film was broadcast Channel 4.

The judges paid tribute to his "enormous bravery" and described his pictures as "truly original, and heartbreaking".

Finalists in the features category included Javier Bauluz, who filmed illegal immigrants in southern Spain. James Miller, who filmed for Channel 4 with Saira Shah in Afghanistan last year, was also shortlisted.

By Julie Tomlin

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