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Highlights of Campfire with Michael Lawrence

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It was as Michael Lawrence recalled being the subject of a kidnap plot, thwarting him from re-entering war-torn Iraq, that it dawned on me: this polite and down to earth man I’d spoken to on a number of occasions, had experienced significantly more than most.

It happened again when he mentioned an impassioned debate he’d had with the Turkish Prime Minister about the definition of a terrorist. And again recountint a meeting with the US top brass in Iraq, uncovering a hugely significant change in American military operating procedures.

It’s testament to Michael Lawrence the man that the former Global Editor at Reuters does not announce himself with fanfare. But as his Campfire talk proved, don’t let his modesty fool you.

Tracing a narrative through his journalism career, from copy boy on a Sydney afternoon newspaper to global news editor meeting Popes and Presidents, Michael’s story focused less on his numerous personal achievements and more on the transformations that have taken place in the media. And as someone whose reporting career began on a typewriter and progressed to issuing social media guidelines for thousands of journalists worldwide, there can be few better placed to comment on this subject.

A key theme throughout his talk was the importance of community journalism. Michael recounted that while working for 2GB radio in Australia, the station’s coverage of a local flood was heavily reliant on information provided by listeners. This was an early example of what would contemporarily be called crowdsourcing; dispelling the myth that such practices are a 21st century phenomenon. He compared this to The Tuscaloosa News; an Alabama based local newspaper, which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting. Covering the story of a deadly local tornado, staff at the paper used social media in combination with traditional reporting to provide real-time updates and help locate missing people. Michael’s point was clear: despite great flux in the industry, the principals and purpose of quality journalism haven’t changed, even if the tools and techniques have.

The night was not without poignancy. Michael spoke of the numerous conflicts he helped cover whilst at Reuters. His memories of the Iraq War and its aftermath were particularly emotive, paying tribute to his colleagues for whom the assignment would prove to be their last. For those in the audience like myself who’ve never been near a conflict zone, hearing the perils involved in reporting news from such an inhospitable location was both an eye opening, and harrowing experience.

Throughout his story, Michael was always at pains to point out how fortunate he has been to work with such talented staff, one of whom, photojournalist Goran Tomasevic, was exhibited downstairs on the ditto doors. As Michael said, “Goran tells a better story with one click than I could do with 2000 words”. I’m not even going to try and explain the vivid nature of Goran’s images, except to say if you get chance, please view them here.

The evening was rounded off with a lively Q&A, with many of the enraptured audience keen to hear Michael’s views on the future of journalism in the Internet age. It was just left for ditto to thank Michael, an engaging speaker, esteemed journalist and gentleman, for a privileged insight into the sharp-end of global news reporting.

Listen to  Michael Lawrence's Fireside Favourite radio show here

Michael Lawrence

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The numbers are impressive: over 30 years journalistic experience, managing a worldwide team in excess of 3,000 journalists and reporting from over 200 international bureaux; yet in Michael Lawrence’s case they only tell part of the story. After all, this is the man who led Reuters’ acclaimed coverage of Iraq from the war in 2003 to the chaos that ensued the following decade . So naturally we’re both delighted and very excited to welcome Michael as ditto’s latest Campfire speaker on Thursday 19th April at 7pm.

Global news editor at Thomson Reuters until this September, Lawrence’s career has led him from Sydney to London, during which time there can be few corners of the planet left untouched by his passion for reporting the news.

Having started his career in Australian print media, Lawrence moved to television news at Macquarie, becoming the network’s European correspondent in 1988. After a four-year stint as programme director at London’s LBC radio station, Lawrence joined Reuters in 1994.

Given his major role in leading Reuters’ multimedia drive, Lawrence’s experience in working across all the major media platforms is both impressive and enviable.

As if that wasn’t enough, ditto is also excited to present the work of multi-award winning photojournalist Goran Tomasevic.  Last year Tomasevic won the coveted Reuters Photographer of the Year prize, making it the third time he has received this prestigious accolade. We’d list the other awards bestowed upon him, but there simply isn’t room. And besides, they say a picture tells a thousand words.

Born in Belgrade, Tomasevic’s talents came to the attention of the world in the nineties as he documented the conflict that swept across former Yugoslavia. He was one of the few journalists to remain in the Kosovan capital of Pristina during the NATO bombing. After shooting the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in 2003, placements followed in Jerusalem and later Cairo. He is currently based in Nairobi where he works as Reuters’ East African Chief Photographer. Photographs from throughout his career will be presented on the ditto doors at The Lighthouse.

Please join us for what is sure to be an unmissable opportunity to gain an insight into the fast-paced and ever-changing world of 21st century media coverage.

Campfire with talk by Michael Lawrence  and photography exhibition by Goran Tomasevic will happen on the 19th April 2012 from 7pm at The Lighthouse.

Unit 1A Canonbury Business Centre - 190 New North Road – Islington – London N1 7BJ

RSVP: campfire@ditto.tv

Written by admin

March 20th, 2012 at 4:50 pm