Times Journalists Bearing Witness in Syria
The Times recently released “Bearing Witness”, the seventh instalment in the Unquiet Film Series, its collection of films celebrating the historical and cultural impact of The Times & The Sunday Times newspapers. The film documents the kidnapping of foreign correspondent Anthony Loyd and photographer Jack Hill, who were brutally beaten and shot before their release in May 2014. Told through the eyes of Loyd and Hill themselves, “Bearing Witness” explores the battle between the growing trend for citizen journalism in areas of conflict versus independent, professional reporting and the endeavour for objective coverage in increasingly hostile environments.
Loyd and Hill were returning to Turkey from the town of Tall Rifat when their vehicle was forced to the side of the road. They were captured and held in a warehouse. Both were brutally beaten and Loyd was shot twice in the leg at close range before the Islamic Front, a rebel group who had provided some security for the journalists, confronted the gang and demanded their release.
The Times has a long heritage in war journalism going back to the Crimean War and beyond into the 1700s. Supporting the newspaper’s legacy in the field, Deputy Editor Emma Tucker and Deputy Foreign Editor Suzy Jagger provide commentary to reveal the importance of foreign correspondents for British press, including the processes and governance in place to safeguard these journalists on assignment.
Emma Tucker, Deputy Editor of The Times, comments:
“War reporting shines a light on atrocities, which can help curtail the excesses of brutal regimes and make the international community take notice. Now, when it is sadly an increasingly dangerous time for war correspondents to operate in the field, and their neutrality is no longer enough to protect them, it is vital to understand the work that they do. Our correspondents Anthony Loyd and Jack Hill are expertly placed to describe the reality of reporting from war zones. We are proud to work with Unquiet Films to tell their story.”
Film director Phil Lind comments:
“In making Bearing Witness I was given access to hear directly from those who are sent to the front line to report on war zones from around the world. In Anthony Loyd and Jack Hill you have a journalist and photographer who almost paid the ultimate price for their determination to report to us the terrifying barrel bombing attacks in Syria.
“Filming with Anthony and Jack opened a window into a world that I did not expect. Their openness to discussing their kidnap ordeal was not only fascinating but also an incredibly sobering experience not just for me but also for the entire crew. To understand that they were actually lucky to survive their incredibly violent abduction and that they both now remain firmly committed to continuing to report from war zones for The Times is truly remarkable to me.
“I also got to hear from those that were back in HQ in Emma Tucker and Suzy Jagger, trying to track, monitor and support from afar. However big the organisation backing you, everyday split second decisions are only made by a handful of people and in Bearing Witness I have been allowed to shine a light on their world.”
The Unquiet Film Series is a collection of films celebrating the historical and cultural impact of The Times (est. 1785) and The Sunday Times (est. 1822) newspapers, crafted by some of the very best filmmakers through unprecedented access to 229 years of archive material. Bearing Witness is now open to all online at ForeverUnquiet.co.uk with future films set for release in the series over the coming months.
The Unquiet Film Series project is the result of a collaboration between News UK, Grey London and production company Betsy Works. Filming for “Bearing Witness” was shot by director Phil Lind with executive producer Peter Maynard.