There was an article in the London Evening Standard last night about the photo exhibition “Becoming the Story”, which is on at the KK Outlet, showing pictures taken by photojournalist Giles Duley. He stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost three limbs, and now intends to return there once he is fit to continue his work. But this is not the story. Creative editing has fixed the spotlight on his girlfriend to bring him up the news agenda for the commuter audience.

At first, this struck me as odd – is a man’s determination in the face of adversity not enough of a news hook for a page 15 story in a human interest paper?  How many people are actually physically or mentally able to go back to a job which injured them that horrifically? In this case his decision to go back had already been reported in the Observer Magazine last weekend, and therefore somewhat old news, but his girlfriend’s comments are fresh from Wednesday night. “Our love has survived the bomb blast that cost my boyfriend his legs.” But is that any more newsworthy than the fact that he is going back? I would say no. But equally it’s got the story into the Standard and that’s not a bad thing.

After a hard day in the office, do people want to read a story about a man risking his life again to take some pictures, or a tale of love survives anything?

At a promotion event for the new AlJazeera programme Africa Investigates last night, producer Ron McCullagh made this point. If you want wide coverage of a story, it has to be interesting to the 9pm prime time viewer, looking for something to take his mind off day-to-day living. A story about terrible health statistics in Sierra Leone is probably not going to cut it. So this is today’s lesson: select the story, choose the angle, make an impact.

More on Africa Investigates and its premise later.

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