Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

The Battle for Afghanistan

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on November 14, 2006

This week Channel 4 News has launched an invasion of Afghanistan, presenting an in-depth series of reports live from the country every night for a week. But the BBC are defending their terrority and pulling out their big guns to win the hearts and minds of the British viewing public. But who will win?

Alex ThompsonChannel 4 News from Afghanistan” is the lastest in a strand of excellent ‘news events’ produced by the C4N team, as part of their nightly bulletins. Earlier in the year Jon Snow reported from Iran, a series which was nothing short of groundbreaking. This time, Alex Thompson’s donned the desert fatigues and is presenting the programme live via satellite all week.

Monday’s programme introduced us to the head of Kabul’s CID, in charge of stopping drug dealers and the Taliban, plus an interview with Pakistan’s President Musharref. Tonight the team are getting dirty with the blooming opium industry.

At least half of the 50 minute programme was dedicated to Afghanistan last night so there’s no messing around and each report is a real in-depth analysis of events.
Alistair LeitheadNot to be outdone, the BBC have brought out their heavy artillery in the form of Alistair Leithead, their correspondent embedded with British troops, who did a special report for the 10 O’clock news.

Now I’m no fan of embedding and I think it tarnished the Iraq War coverage but it served the Beeb well yesterday. At times, I thought the package was an astonishing piece of solo-journalism and was ready to praise Leithead’s VJ skills. But it’s since transpired that producer Peter Emerson and cameraman Fred Scott did admirable jobs on the piece. The troops were open and the footage dramatic.

The winner? I think the Beeb took it this time, but with four days left of live coverage from Kabul, Channel 4 News may well prove me wrong.

  • Watch some of Channel 4 News here.
  • Watch Alistair Leithead’s report here.

Incidentally, the BBC/C4N battle is now a digital one. The BBC’s excellent Editors’ Blog has been challenged by the long-needed Channel 4 News blog

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