Coming 2015: ‘Headlines from the Holy Land’

THEY DUG THROUGH TONS OF RUBBLE to try to save those lying beneath. Their efforts were often in vain. The trapped casualties were already dead.

This could have been Gaza in the summer of 2014. It could also have been Jerusalem in the summer of 1946, when an armed Jewish group fighting to drive the British out of Palestine bombed the King David hotel, then the headquarters of the British administration.

In both cases, journalists from across the world were there to try to tell the story of what was happening: a story which for decades has fascinated, and often horrified, reporters, editors, and audiences.

I am currently finishing my next book, Headlines from the Holy Land. It is due to be published later this year by Palgrave Macmillan, publishers of my first book, Reporting Conflict. The book tells the story of the way that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been covered from the 1940s until now. The early chapters draw on extensive archive research; the later ones on interviews with more than twenty journalists and diplomats in the Middle East, Britain, and the United States.

A view of the barrier between Israel and the West Bank, near Qalandiya crossing point, June 2014 Picture: James Rodgers

A view of the barrier between Israel and the West Bank, near Qalandiya crossing point, June 2014
Picture: James Rodgers

I also draw on my own experience of being based in Gaza for the BBC from 2002 to 2004. Since then, I have returned regularly to the region, including making two trips to Jerusalem and the West Bank in the last 12 months to gather material for the book.

Headlines from the Holy Land explores the relationship between journalists and diplomats: who knows more about what is going on? Why has the Israeli-Palestinian conflict attracted so much airtime and diplomatic effort? In conclusion, the book analyses how the conflict is evolving, and how both journalism and diplomacy need to respond.

I will post some more details of the book between now and publication. In the meantime, I look forward to the chance to discuss some of my work with the Journalism students at City University London who will be taking my ‘Reporting Conflict’ module this term.

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