By Abi Wharton, Head of Global Awareness
On Wednesday 7 November, the annual Global Awareness Lecture was delivered by Kate Adie CBE to a sold- out crowd, in the year which she was awarded the BAFTA fellowship. Kate framed her experiences in response to the question of how journalists play a role in protecting human rights – one of the key themes in the Global Awareness BAC.
Kate talked movingly about her progression from an accidental foray into local journalism which led to her becoming the BBC’s Chief News Correspondent from 1989 to 2003 and a career which included reporting on a series of kidnaps in Sardinia; being arrested in Belgrade trying to gather material about General Tito. She also spoke about the two foreign assignments she is most often associated with – the American bombing of the Libyan capital Tripoli in 1986 and the Chinese authorities’ killing of protestors in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989.
Kate gave rare insight into what it means to be a journalist and how difficult it often is not to get involved with the event. She was clear that the role of a journalist is to expose the truth in order for others to then be able to react. Kate also spoke about the changes to the news seen over recent years and how the access to instant information has cut right at the heart of how we access and interpret information. This was a salutary lesson for the audience, particularly for those who are learning how to use conflicting evidence which is presented to us 24 hours a day.
Despite the many atrocities Kate has witnessed, she reaffirmed her belief in humanity. She was clear that good journalism is all about understanding people and their own stories – a chord that struck deep with the audience.