These are dark days for journalism. As corruption and scandal have spewed out of News International and onto the doorstep of Downing Street, via Scotland Yard, it’s been easy to forget that there is another side to the news.
But there are reporters the world around who risk their jobs and their reputations, and sometimes their lives, to challenge the official version of the truth.
On the Record is a new play by Christine Bacon and Noah Birkstead-Breen, produced by the human rights theatre group, Ice and Fire.
It follows the stories of six investigative journalists and their struggles to report the stories they feel need to be told.
They report on child trafficking in Mexico that involves the police and a senior politician, to the day-to-day atrocities faced by Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli state, and the rules and restrictions of embedded reporting in Iraq.
The script is an innovative and masterful dramatisation of verbatim accounts given by working journalists.
US photojournalist Zoriah Miller was “dis-embedded” after publishing photos of dead Marines. Lasantha Wickrematung, the founder of the Sunday Leader, was killed in 2009 after accusing the Sri Lankan government of using assassination to silence its critics. And Israeli Ha’aretz correspondent, Amira Hass, is also featured.
The result is an intense 90-minute performance. It takes the audience through some of the most difficult and fraught moments in these journalists’ careers and the stories they were prepared to fight for.
This is the story of how we get the stories that those in power don’t want told. More than that, it is an interrogation of what journalism can be at its best and most powerful.
Ice and Fire has a longstanding reputation for creating theatre that is politically committed but also emotionally engaging. On the Record is no exception.
It is urgent that journalists, and anyone who is interested in the world outside their own backyard, gets along to see it.
Socialist Worker readers can get £10 tickets (usually £17) for Wednesday to Friday shows. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and quote “Socialist Worker”.