Long-time BBC correspondent Nick Bryant has teamed up with the Judith Neilson Institute for a new podcast called ‘Journo’.
Journo looks at how journalism is changing around the world, where it is heading and why more people are questioning the media’s commitment to truth.
Nick has just moved back to Australia from New York and recorded most of the first episode while in hotel quarantine with his young family. He worked remotely with Deadset Studios to make the podcast. Deadset Studios is a consultancy specialising in audio strategy, podcast production, and branded storytelling.
Episode one Journalists will be free to report — and other lies the Taliban tells, looks at what is happening to journalists in Afghanistan today, and highlights the plight of one such journalist, Bilal Sarwary.
Nick Bryant told radioinfo “ What we report on in the first episode of Journo is how, as international correspondents rush to Kabul as the Taliban continued its rapid advance, hundreds of Afghan journalists were heading in the opposite direction.
When we were looking at those planes taking off from Kabul airport, unfortunately, lots of Afghan local journalists were on board. Many fear for their lives, many decided to flee the country, and what we’ve seen is the decimation already of a generation of Afghan journalists that really came to the fore after 9-11.
“We tell the story of an old mate of mine Bilal Sarwari who was selling carpets and antique furniture in a luxury hotel in Peshawar in Pakistan when 9-11 happened, and this hotel was absolutely inundated with foreign journalists and they were looking for people to translate.
“Bilal is Afghan born, so he joined a news team as they sort of crossed the border into Afghanistan and so began this really stellar and extraordinary career.
“I mean, he really is regarded as one of the best journalists in Afghanistan, but alas, he was told by a friend, actually, in the Taliban, somebody who he had gone to school with, his life was in danger, and he needed to get out.
“And as somebody who loves Afghanistan, loves their homeland, he decided he had no other choice but to head to the airport and to leave the country with his wife and young child.”
Looking forward to the next episode and Journo takes a look at China, and Nick says, they have“…a similar problem, an exodus of journalists actually forced to leave by the Chinese authorities.
“Of course, Australia’s been bearing the brunt of that. You know, you have Michael Smith of The Australian Financial Review and Bill Birtles of the ABC, who were told they they had to go. And that has been also the experience of a lot of American news organizations like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post.”
Another upcoming episode will cover local journalism, regional journalism, community journalism, and hyperlocal journalism.
He says the first episode was made without any of the the podcast team seeing each other, “I think it’s it’s amazing that the team that’s put it together has never met. We’ve never been in the same room together. We put the first episode together while I was in quarantine, and it shows what you can do these days with technology. But even with that, it was a big ask and I think the team has actually performed heroics in getting, you know what I think is a compelling story.”
The full interview with Nick is here.
In the first episode of Journo Nick Bryant investigates the exodus of Afghan media and the powerful spin from Taliban HQ that helped them claim the country.
“You’ve got no one left to tell the story” warns Bilal Sarwary, legendary Afghan journalist, as he flees Kabul following death threats from the Taliban.
Bilal’s not alone. He’s part of a new generation of journalists who’ve come of age since 9/11 who’ve been forced to abandon their homes and careers reporting on their homeland.
Those reporters who do remain in Afghanistan face an uncertain future under a regime that once banned television and the internet, and who have maintained an assassination campaign against journalists — particularly women.