When CNN anchorman Anderson Cooper scooped up a Haitian child and carried him to safety it was a watershed moment in the history of TV news, the channel’s executive vice president Tony Maddox tells The Times.
He says: “The minute and a half dispassionate news wrap is dead. TV journalism just got a lot harder because of it. The audiences are done with straight up and down. They want the entire atmosphere, all the authenticity and humanity from someone out there who can call it right.
“Anderson doesn’t see himself as a hero, although it was undoubtedly a brave thing to do. It was a spontaneous human response. He couldn’t turn away and do nothing. Foreign correspondents are not detached from their humanity. They have a lot of skills, but we don’t expect them to forget to be human beings first.”
But the UK’s Jon Snow of Channel 4 News is not so sure.
He tells The Times: “Anderson’s work out there wasn’t news reporting. It was drum beating,
“I’d call it elongated nightly fundraising. We didn’t learn very much from it. To my mind he isn’t a celebrity reporter – he’s just a celebrity. Channel 4 didn’t do any of that. That is not what we were there for. I never think of inserting myself into the story. I just report. I just ask people to show me things – to take me places – to tell me their story.”
Elsewhere in The Times, foreign correspondent Anthony Loyd reveals that there have been several occasions when he has left people to die who he could have helped.
He writes: “There was the old man in Grozny who I let die in the snow after his legs had been blown off; and the Taleban fighter, bullet-riddled and down to his last gasp but still somehow hanging in there, whom I spoke with and then abandoned on a roadside north of Kabul.
“There was a Bosnian soldier, collapsed with exhaustion by a roadside only a few hundred metres short of an enemy advance, who would probably still be alive if I had rolled him into my vehicle. And there is the five-year-old child, Abdi, dying of starvation in Imi, Ethiopia, whose parents, also starving, I interviewed.”