The Media in the Press

The first death of a British journalist during the current military conflict in Afghanistan has, not surprisingly, received extensive coverage across all of today's newspapers.

Indeed, The Herald splashes with the story, with Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, leading the tributes to Sunday Mirror war reporter, Rupert Hamer, who died when the armoured vehicle he was travelling in was blasted by a roadside bomb. British photographer, Phil Cokburn, lost a leg in the attack and a US Marine was also killed.

Brown is quoted, saying: “[Rupert and Phil's] courage, skill and dedication to reporting from the frontline was incredibly important and ensured the world could see and read about our heroic troops. Their professionalism and commitment to our forces will not be forgotten.”

Among further tributes, on page 2 – plus a leader, on page 14 – the memories of other journalists killed 'in action' are remembered: Terry Lloyd, Abdul Samad Rohani, Paul Douglas, James Brolan and Richard Wild. Across the top of page 2, the headline reads: 'Media Coverage of War Zones Essential, say Forces Chiefs', among them former British forces commander, Col. Richard Kemp.

And in a commentary, Foreign editor, Davd Pratt, writes: “When there is bad news, the chances of it being a friend who has been killed, wounded or held hostage is high, as I have found in recent years.”

With 25 years' experience reporting from conflict zones around the world, he continues: “Those of us who cover wars are a comparatively small band whose paths over the years invariably cross in the oddest of places and the intensity of our shared experience inevitably bonds people quickly and powerfully.”

The leader comment reminds us that, last year alone, some 132 journalists and support staff were killed worldwide and that, by way of comparison, the figure during the two decade-long Vietnam War was 63. “Generally, however, with the exception of Iraq and Afghanistan, it is local journalists who die rather than foreigners.”

The Scotsman (page 13) quotes Hamer's editor, Tina Weaver: “He was a seasoned, highly-regarded and brave journalist who had reported from both Iraq and Afghanistan on many occasions. It was his fifth trip to Afghanistan and he had forged friendships with a number of soldiers serving out there.”

The Scottish Sun (page 27) has political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, confessing: “I used to open Rupert's paper every Sunday morning and look for his name with a feeling of mild depression. As both his comrade and rival for ten years, I always knew he'd have a good story the rest of us had missed.”

The Sunday Mirror being a stablemate of the Daily Record, it is no surprise the Record carries news of Hamer's death on its front page and all of page 2. The paper reports that Hamer is the 18th reporter to have been killed in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

Hamer's death also makes it on to the front page of The Guardian. Two weeks ago, Canadian journalist, Michelle Lang, a reporter for the Calgarry Herald, was killed in a roadside blast.

Says the Scottish Daily Mail (page 8) of Hamer's death: “[He] was regarded as one of the finest war reporters on Fleet Street, combining an in-depth military knowledge with bravery and a mischievous sense of humour. He neither boasted nor complained of the perils he faced, but friends said he was well aware that every assignment was potentially lethal.”

Elsewhere in the Scottish Daily Mail (page 20 and 21), Paul Scott, in a near two-page feature, asks whether radio broadcaster, Chris Evans, can keep his ego in check, citing recent 'spats' with fellow broadcasters, Jonathan Ross and Chris Moyles. Evans has clearly mellowed, but Scott claims that BBC bosses are “resigned” to losing around a million listeners from the BBC Radio 2 breakfast slot, which – as of today – Evans has taken over, from the legendary Terry Wogan.

The Herald (page 3) quotes Evans – in an interview with Andrew Marr on the BBC yesterday – saying that Ross's departure from the BBC – announced last week – was “inevitable”. Much the same story appears on page 10 of The Scotsman.

And staying with the BBC, Scottish Daily Mail columnist, Peter McKay (page 17), speculates that the Sun's backing of Tory leader, David Cameron, creates a convenient conspiracy for the BBC to allow it to “maintain its huge empire”.

Other media news:

* Q&A with Neil Barr, boss of Glasgow-based website and digital designers, Alienation Digital – The Herald, page 24.

* MSP, Pauline McNeill, calls for every 18 year-old Scot to receive, free for a year, a newspaper of their choice, in a bid to help the ailing newspaper industry. See here and here - The Scotsman, page 18.

* MediaGuardian looks at the BBC gearing up for the move of many of its departments to new premises in Salford – page 1.

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