During a 40 year journalistic career (when he was trained to use simple language, avoiding jargon), and 23 years in television, our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry, has always known that foreign stories must be made RELEVANT to the people hearing about them in Wales – and this is now emphasised by news today that the USA is confronting Iran over the appalling attack on Israeli citizens by Hamas.
Earlier Phil has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.
Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of history and teaching the subject is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.
He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting.
Unfortunately it falls to me, again, to explain the importance of today’s events to Mrs Jones in Rhyl.
She is, of course, a fictional character, but I have always found it useful to bear her in mind as a typical audience-member, because incidents which can seem completely irrelevant and far away, have a very real influence on her life.
So it is with what is happening today in the Middle East.
It appears that the USA has, in effect, recognised a new ‘axis of evil’ after the awful massacre of 1400 Israeli citizens by Hamas.
This is as important as the temporary truce period between Israel and Hamas which began today – with the first group of Israeli women and children held by the group due to be released soon.
The new ‘axis’, it seems, involves Iran (even though it wasn’t forewarned of the attack on October 7), Russia and China.
Despite being caught on the hop, Iran has celebrated the terrible move by Hamas, and (through its proxies) threatened the interests of the USA.
It seems to be acting with the tacit co-operation of Russia and China, in a loose grouping of autocracies.
The USA has sent a message to them, warning them not to get involved in the Israeli dispute, saying, effectively: “don’t even think about it”.
A second aircraft carrier strike group has been sent by them to the eastern Mediterranean near Israel to deter Iran or the militia it backs, Hizbullah, from joining in.
The USS Eisenhower has been ordered to join the USS Gerald R Ford which has already arrived there.
Even so there have been rocket attacks on American bases launched by Hizbullah.
All of this may sound arcane and a million miles from daily life on Welsh streets, and the result of a “quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing”, as the UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938 called the conflict between Nazi Germany and Czechoslovakia.
But in fact it enormously affects Mrs Jones in Rhyl.
Israel, as well as the USA, are the UK’s allies and Rishi Sunak has pledged to support them, so we could be drawn into the conflict.
The Hamas attacks which have been backed by Iran, have also attracted the support of extremists closer to home – so they might even be emboldened to launch a terrorist action in Rhyl, God forbid!
I must show how this has a bearing on daily life for Mrs Jones in Rhyl, because she knows a thing or two…
Details of Phil’s astonishing decades-long journalistic career (when he always tried to make stories relevant to ‘Mrs Jones in Rhyl’), as he was gripped by the incurable neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in an important book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now.
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.