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Our Man In Stockholm
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Our Man In Stockholm

Author: Philip O Connor

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On media, journalism and the world around us.
55 Episodes
On the road again so this week's pod covers some issues that have cropped up recently in the media sphere - how very few people now writing about Greta Thunberg have any idea what they are talking about, what it's like to spend hours in the cold for a 12-minute video of a world news event, and why journalists have a responsibility to people they put in the spotlight. 
During a two-day seminar at the Auschwitz Museum I spoke to journalists and museum staff about the challenges of  telling the story of the Holocaust, 75 years after the camp, where over a million died in an industrial murder operation that was the epicentre of the effort to exterminate the entire Jewish people, was liberated. It is a desperate, awful bleak place at times, but a look around the word tells us that little has changed - devious men still use the spectre of "the other" to grow and consolidate their power, just as Hitler did. I asked a variety of journalists about their work, and why they felt they had to go to Auschwitz. There is also a recording of a seminar with press officer Pawel Sawicki about the media and how Auschwitz is portrayed, and what they do to keep their reputation intact and their story relevant. One of the greatest books about the Holocaust is entitled "Hope Dies Last",  and that is what I left Auschwitz and Poland with - hope. We can overcome the hatred that created this place, but it is an ongoing process, sometimes of education, sometimes a battle, but always with compassion. If my constant posting and tweeting and writing about this subject over the last few days has upset or offended you that's fair enough, but I'm not one bit sorry. The alternative is being silent, and I have seen where that leads. I cannot and will not be part of it.
On this day 18 years ago we watched in horror as the Twin Towers collapsed live on television - and with them went many of the checks and balances of objective journalism. That parking of journalistic principles has paved the way for the events we say happening today around the world.This podcast features reflections on that day and what has changed since, and what to be aware of when consuming media following the resetting of our historical clock to 9/11/2001. 
Gaute Boertad Sjaervoe was 16 years old when he saw two of his friends murdered by Anders Behring Breivik on July 22, 2011. Trapped on an island 40 kilometres outside of Oslo, he ran, but had several more brushes with the gunman who went on to kill 67 more people that day, the vast majority of them teenagers like Gaute. He survived as Norway promised more love and more democracy as an antidote to the hatred of Breivik, but instead of being repulsed by him, the rhetoric of the murderer is now in common use in Norwegian politics. Undaunted by his traumatic experience, Gaute is still very much involved in the youth wing of the Labour party, and on a late summer afternoon in Trondheim he told me the story of what happened that day - and what has happened to Norway since. 
Over the last 17 years I have gotten married, had a family and built a career in media for myself - all that time, Dawit Isak has been sitting in a cell in Eritrea in the most appalling conditions, imprisoned without trial for his journalism. I spoke to journalist and author Martin Schibbye - who was himself shot, arrested and spent 438 days in the Kality prison in Ethiopia while trying to report there - about his new book "The Search For Dawit Isak" and what the future holds for freedom of speech in a part of the world that is struggling to find peace. 
Whether we like it or not, social media is now an inherent part of the wider media, and journalists, editors and consumers need to understand the role it plays in disseminating news and information. But there is also a deeply personal element to how we interact online, so I spoke to academic Ciarán McMahon about his new book "The Psychology Of Social Media" to tease out some of the strands of social networking, how we present and perceive ourselves there and where all this is leading us in the 21st century. 
As a child Zainab Boladale would pretend to read the news by grabbing a paper and making things up based on the pictures she saw, and ever since she has wanted to be a journalist. She made her way from Co. Clare on Ireland's west coast through one of the country's best journalism programs and on into the hallowed halls of public service broadcaster RTE where she has been a huge success - but as a woman of colour from a not-exactly-privileged background, it hasn't always been easy. She told me about her route to the top, and where she's headed next. 
A new podcast series on the same feed, featuring interviews with some of the interesting people I meet on my travels. First up is a recent conversation I had in Reyjavik with Gunnar Nelson - a fighter, a father and a man not to be trifled with at daycare... 
Hannes Halldorsson is not just a top-class international goalkeeper for Iceland - he's a scriptwriter, movie-maker and director back operating in a small national market where budgets are tight and dreams are big. I spoke to him in Reykjavik about making ends meet in the movie business when he's not between the sticks. 
Together with Julian Assange and Wikileaks, activist and "poetician" Birgitta Jonsdottir turned the world on its head by releasing the "Collateral Murder" video, which featured the slaying of two Reuters journalists by American forces in Baghdad, Iraq. Jonsdottir may have ended her association with Wikileaks but her commitment to art, activism and politics is still as strong as ever, and I met her in Reykjavik to talk to her about her life and work, as well as the importance of the Internet archives for journalists as a tool to hold the powerful to account. 
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