The Conversation

I’m often critical of the BBC, and they way they promote an establishment view in many of their news programmes, often failing to report or minimising stories which would embarrass the government and, as academic studies have demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, being extremely biased in their treatment of trade unions, Jeremy Corbyn and class issues generally.

It is a very middle-class institution, and employs too many people as commentators who come from highly privileged backgrounds (with private education and Oxbridge), but does produce some excellent programmes. And one whole area that particularly stands out is the BBC World Service – which also covers the news more neutrally than the internal services, which often follow the lead of the UK newspapers which are owned by a small handful of billionaires including of course Rupert Murdoch and reflect their perspective on matters.

On Monday morning this week the BBC World Service broadcast in their series ‘The Conversation’, which looks at the experiences of women across the world on “image, work, relationships, equality, migration and working lives” had presenter Kim Chakanetsa talking with two women, Mexican photographer Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier and Ami Vitale from the USA.

It was a lesson in sensitive presentation, with Chakanetsa encouraging the two women to talk with pertinent questions (unlike some BBC programmes which end up being more about the interviewer than the guests), and in the roughly half-hour programme there were some interesting reflections on photography, on women photographers generally, on news, on ways of working and more, much of which as they state applies to photographers whatever their ethnicity or gender. You can listen to the programme online (along with 169 other episodes of the series) or download it from the page.

Both women are photographers for National Geographic, and Mittermeier’s recent video of a polar bear starving without the ice it needs to hunt has attracted global attention to the problems of climate change. She is also the founder and President of SeaLegacy, a non profit organization working to protect the oceans. Ami Vitale’s ‘Pandas Gone Wild‘ won her second prize for Nature Stories in the 2017 World Press Photo – to add to her many earlier awards.

I first wrote about Ami Vitale many years ago as one of the more interesting photojournalists around, and it was a great delight to meet her in Poland in 2005.

Ami Vitale (in red) at Alcatraz, Bielsko-Biala, Poland

You can read more about that event, the first FotoArtFestival on My London Diary, which links to my own diary of the Festival.

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