Small World: Coverage of International Issues WCIA

photo credit: Emyr Jenkins

On December 3rd the Welsh Centre for International Affairs hosted an excellent joint event with Cardiff University School of Journalism about reporting on international news stories. I was keen to hear from the panel  of very experienced journalists and it was indeed a treat to have them all in Cardiff for the evening as they certainly did give us entertaining and valuable insights into their field of expertise in both broadcasting and the press. See reports below from Maria Diaz and William Hayward.


We heard from Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News; Jonathan Levy, Director of Newsgathering and Operations at Sky News and Sean Ryan, Associate Editor of the Sunday Times. Richard Sambrook of Cardiff University was in the chair and our own Martin Shipton of the Western Mail commented on covering the local aspects of international stories.

There was plenty of time for audience questions which came from members of the public and journalism students – a very valuable opportunity for students to air concerns and interests.

It was a pity that there were so few working journalists in the audience. I understand that the WCIA would like to extend their contacts in this respect. I am sure this would be welcome outreach. I heard about the event because of earlier contact with the Centre. I appreciated a glimpse into a branch of journalism different to my own but with much common ground. It is heartening to see enthusiasm and dedication among fellow journalists who have had plenty of time to get cynical but simply haven’t. Rather, they came across as shrewd and intensely practical.

Given the panel’s range of experience I took the opportunity to ask a question related to a day-long event I will be organising for the NUJ in Wales next spring. It will consider reporting on religion in the news and on how  religious events occurring abroad impact on the home ground and need to be understood in their foreign and local aspects. I asked if the panel thought it would be worthwhile to have some teaching input into journalism syllabuses on faith and its claims and interactions with secular society (there is currently no Welsh university which offers input of this kind). They backed the suggestion, giving examples of problems caused by inadequate understanding of nuances in Jewish and Islamic situations. Richard Sambrook said, of the notion of providing some teaching, ‘If you’re asking should it be mandatory – no. If you’re asking would it be a good offer – yes.’

I am pleased to have learned this week that Dr Michael Munnik of Cardiff University’s Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK has had permission to launch a module next autumn on ‘Religion and the News: Conflict and Context’ within the School of History, Archaeology and Religion. I hope that this finds an application in the School of Journalism. I am looking forward to delivering a workshop on a similar theme this spring on one of JOMEC’s MA courses.

The panel session was preceded by an advice session for those interested in getting their international stories into the media. WCIA are to be congratulated for this practical initiative.

Social Media report by Maria Diaz

Event Report by William Hayward