Whilst the profession of journalism has never exactly had a good reputation, its kudos is probably at a record low at the moment. UK journalists are often referred to as ‘parasites’. However, foreign reporters largely escape this criticism. The refugee crisis, which is still ongoing but you’d hardly know it as it no longer seems to be considered news, is a great example of when reporters brought an issue directly into our living rooms. Their images changed public opinion. But what happens when the cameras stop rolling? Orban Wallace finds out in his new documentary Another News Story.
Another News Story begins on Lesbos, Greece in 2015 as Syrian refugees arrive on boats to be greeted by a pack of journalists and camerapeople, all competing to get ‘that’ story or shot. Wallace follows the trail across the Balkans, through Hungary and on to German and the perceived haven beyond. There are two trails though. One of poor, tired, hungry and traumatised migrants. Another of well-fed reporters who get to return to their comfy hotels when the filming stops. There are familiar faces along the way, but three figures keep reappearing. There’s Bruno and Johnny, two journalists who have been around the block. There’s also Mahasen, a Syrian woman who is determined to reunite with her children.
Another News Story is a thought-provoking and fascinating portrait of a crisis from both sides of the camera. There are those journalists who will do anything to get a story and others who have a resigned yet caring attitude to their subjects. Others find the suffering just too much to bear. The sheer degradation the refugees have to suffer every day is what’s important here. It doesn’t help when a camera crew want to film a piece at night in the middle of a field of tents. Indeed, the balance between reporting and intruding is a fine line. The chaos of the pack is suitably represented in Another New Story by Wallace’s low-key approach to the subject matter. There are moments of unexpected warmth and kindness and others of repugnant cynicism. It’s a film which flows in the same way as the human traffic.
Another News Story screens at East End Film Festival on 22 April.