As James Rodgers cites in his insightful and compelling examination of the reporting of violent conflict, journalism is often seen as the rough first draft of history (p.6). It is the way many millions around the world learn about their world and about the conflicts that both plague and shape it. What we know about the conflict in the eastern Congo or in Somalia or Syria we know through the reporting of correspondents on the scene or as near as possible or through the analysis of politicians and experts mediated through the prism of journalistic reporting.
This makes an understanding of how journalists report conflict key to the ability of people to ingest and themselves analyse what they are being told. Can they trust this or that journalist, newspaper or radio/TV station; where did they get that piece of video footage, that comment from an eye-witness, who produced that piece of social media; how have they represented the different parties to the conflict, the institutions, NGOs or politicians involved? These are all questions that need to be asked when reading, listening to or watching journalists' accounts of events and are particuarly key when it comes to distant armed conflicts.
Rodgers's book deals with all these issues from both the viewpoint of one who has been there, done that and done it commendably well as a BBC reporter, and from the viewpoint of one who knows and understands the academic literature on journalism and war. It is an ideal starting place for students coming to journalism either at BA level or, with knowledge and experience from earlier study or work, at MA level. But it is also going to be valuable for academics and researchers in other fields (notably politics and international relations) whose subject areas are the focus of conflict reporting but who don't know how it works. (see ,longer review on [...])