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In the news since 91

Issues in international journalism

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Races, rockets, and running orders #Syria #London2012
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See the face of the athlete who has just finished the medal-winning run, or the striker who has just scored the goal that takes the league title, and you can try to imagine what it must feel like to experience that joy that most of us will never know. 

The Olympics have produced some memorable images, but the picture from the last couple of weeks which will stay in my mind appeared in the International Herald Tribune earlier this week. You can see it here, on the Reuters website.

Perhaps it is the way that the photographer, Goran Tomasevic, has captured the fighter almost in the pose of an athlete in mid-competition: his leg raised like a runner; his face fixed like a defender knowing he has to make that 50/50 ball. The broken chair or stool to the side of his foot reminded me a little of a hurdle. In this image of war, there are echoes of the sporting competition supposed to promote peace and understanding.

My impression is no doubt influenced by my being in London this summer. Here, perhaps inevitably given 'Team GB's success in the games, the Olympics have dominated the news to a bewildering extent. You have to search deep in the newspapers for other news, and, once you have found that, you have almost reached the daily Olympic supplement. BBC1 has had the habit of summing up the day's main Olympic events at the end of their live programme before the news, only to go through it all again immediately afterwards in the headline sequence. Politics and international affairs are delayed: squeezed at best, all but ignored at worst. 

The internet means that there are plenty of other places to look for news but, even in these days when we are all supposed to be content to pick and choose our own bulletin, there is no doubt that the perception remains that, somehow, events in Aleppo are less important than the Olympics. Just ask the people who sending the words and pictures what they think about being further down the running order than a run or jump the audience has just seen anyway.

Editors at serious news organizations face a thankless task. Much of their British audience, on whichever platform, is probably more interested in what happens in Stratford than in Syria. But Ian Burrell had a point earlier this week when he argued in The Independent that 'the battle for Aleppo that will determine the fate of Bashar al-Assad's regime is going relatively unnoticed'. Four years ago, Russia's brief war with South Ossetia, on which I reported from Moscow, knocked the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics off the lead.

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There was a reminder yesterday of the risks to which Ian Burrell referred. The International News Safety Institute published a survey suggesting that 70 people have already been killed this year covering the news. 

If you want to understand why, open the newspaper far enough to get past the dressage, or wait until the TV news has re-run the races. Even in this Olympic summer, someone running for their life deserves attention no less than than someone running the race of their life.