More thrills than skills – A half-life in journalism, part 50

Over the next few weeks, is to publish, each weekday, edited extracts from the memoirs of Scottish war correspondent, Paul Harris. ‘More thrills than skills: A half-life in journalism’, is being scheduled for publication next year.

AS journalists in a war zone, we were, of course, supposed to be hard-bitten, fully objective and to remain unmoved by the entreaties of the underdog.

I detected a change in that traditional view during the course of the war in Bosnia.

The veteran BBC newsman, Martin Bell, coined a phrase around the end of the Bosnian war: ‘the journalism of attachment’.

Going very much against decades of firmly-established BBC tradition, Bell suggested that journalists should not stand back but, instead, actually take sides with those patently oppressed in a conflict like the Bosnian war.

After years in Bosnia – and much time spent in towns and cities like Sarajevo held in the vice-like grip of siege – he came to see this as a moral duty.