Saturday, December 19, 2009

"In Harm's Way" by Martin Bell [17]

Chapter 19: Days of Foreboding

An interesting and entertaining account of the first half of th final year of the war, beginning with Jimmy Carter's bogus cease-fire in the winter of 1994, and ending in spring, just as Operation Flash went into effect and helped unleash the chain of events which led, ultimately, both to Srebrenica and finally Dayton. Bell ruminates on how little the war registered in the West by that point, since there was now little access for television reporting (the Bosnian Army was not interested in advertising its new strength and capabilities, and the Bosnian Serbs were simply done with talking to the rest of the world, period) and also because Europe was, seemingly, bored with it.

The chapter ends with Bell recounting his pride at a piece he finished after three weeks work piecing together what information he could get and whatever images he could acquire, a piece he was proud of and felt passionate about, and which he felt conveyed some sense of the terror enfolding mostly offscreen. The piece was butchered, and only a few brief clips were played with in-studio voiceovers. Nobody was listening.

[Note: I have corrected this post, in which I originally referred to "Operation Storm" which would not actually occur until a few months later.]

1 comment:

Owen said...

Kirk, I think you mean Operation Flash rather than Storm.

Bell's problems reporting what he was seeing wasn't necessarily due to the world having stopped listening, as far as the UK was concerned, anyway. This was the "Birt era" at the BBC. Under the regime's "totalitarian micro-management" BBC news coverage as I remember it was very much newsroom focused rather than location focused.

Makers of news and documentary programmes had to outline their finished "product" in writing before going out with the camera. Kate Adie observed that this approach was inconsistent with the "obligation to report".