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Read this: How do you report from a repressive regime?

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How do you report from a repressive regi…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts hello, I'm Andrea catherwood, and this is the media show from BBC Radio 4 it is the biggest Media of the year so far is created a black hole of information and no one is quite sure what's going to happen next I know it's not brexit this week even if it does sound like it, but fortnite massively popular game has had an end of season finale on Saturday like no other culminating in the whole game universe disappearing into a black hole or record is the journalist at TechRadar does an online publication she writes news and reviews on technology millions of users spend hours a day on this game.

It's been off what have they been doing while it hasn't been there it seems I've been complaining about not my hope is that they're getting a bit of the fresh air.

In a bit of perspective outside of playing the game is what I'm hoping.

They're doing will find out more about that later now back to IRL in real life China and Russia are featuring in the 2 biggest international news stories at the moment in Hong Kong and Syria we've got two top journalist just back from these places to talk about reporting from inside oppressive regimes Flanagan spent eight years based in Beijing for the Guardians just just returned from Hong Kong can you talk about that in a minute, but you are now the foreign leader writer at the Guardian does foreign make it into the Guardian readers for tomorrow.

Are you looking closer to home for everybody today and their Deal or No Deal ok? Will look forward to hearing what you've got to say about that tomorrow in the Studio with us is Clarissa Ward she CNN chief international correspondent and she's won a string of her of awards for her reporting including Five Armies in action.

Just on the road at the town of grass and as you can see it is a chaotic situation desperate to get out of here start at 6 big own eyes at least one building that appear to be on fire and these people are now to try to get to safety exactly well, that was Clarissa reporting from close to the Syrian Turkish border.

I know that you've been reporting from inside Syria through this incredibly difficult compared to even other very similar conflicts in the region and mainly because journalists and teams who work.

Directly targeted in this current iteration of the conflict on the Syrian Turkish border, what kind of corporation at the moment or international journalists getting from the Turkish and Kurdish Fighters I think journalists had been getting very good cooperation from Kurdish Fighters and that's one of the reasons why so many journalists have been covering that area because it was somewhere that you could go with a relative degree of safety with this Turkish incursion it is essentially becoming possible for journalists now to do any work there because Kurdish forces have essentially had two areas to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

I think it's no secret is no friend to Western journalists making it almost impossible for any of us to continue to work there, but can you just returned from a very different kind of conflict in Hong Kong we seen Street battles between activists and please I spent 5-years and uncovering the handover and

Face there is a corresponding to those images that we've seen I suppose with the worst case scenario that we envisaged when we were setting like that idea of one country and two systems back in 1997.

You know reporting from an an area that has got freedom of press to a large extent and yet because of that one country two systems.

Are you concerned when you are there about what is thinking? I wasn't thinking particularly about the activist that you were talking to and reporting about.

I think he's in so many cases for the concern is much more resources for the local staff who may work with us that it is actually for the safety of journalists and sells obviously not the case Xperia but yes I mean certainly the activists and Souls are very concerned about concealing their identities in a way.

They weren't so that's a huge change we seen compared to 2014 when you have the umbrella protests in Hong Kong people with a keen to give their names to speak openly to give their views and now.

Want to talk and share, but then much more anxious about being attractive than they were so it feels a little bit more like your reporting from inside China perhaps than it did in the past in Hong Kong it's still easier people want to talk to you can just approached them people about you in some places still but yes there's much more concern about being identified then there.

Was you can really see the way that Hong Kong its freedoms evolving Eve even as the protests go on something that that many Chandler to very aware of when they are reporting from places like Syria Afghanistan or Iraq you arrive in quite a lot of US dollars looking for translators for places to stay and that's very lucrative for people in the short-term, but to co-operate can be very vulnerable.

We do have a duty.

Don't need to protect those sources whether they appear on camera or whether people that you work with that must be particularly difficult and it's so difficult.

And you know I just want to know what time you said I mean the primary risk the people who are really facing the the major threat or not as they are the local staff and sources their lives and take incredibly brave steps to try to tell their story essentially and this is something that weighs on me every time I go to Syria and specifically every time I leave in particular this last in since leaving now and then maybe we won't be going back then maybe we can go back and what about those young Curtis journalist who have been working with us who have been on the front lines with us have worked Around the Clock in and wrist a lot and where they stand now and what can we do to help them? And how can we protect them and these our conversations that were having all the time it's different because even if you're willing to help.

What can you really do to help you can move them to somewhere else is that what people ultimately want to be sort of taken out of their homes.

It's a constant constant issue and it's something.

Warren young journalists about in these places when they're going into this job that the consequences can be real.

Yeah, absolutely and an ongoing I wonder Tanya when you're working in China which he did for 8-years this idea about protecting sources is clearly a major concern in China but anybody that you talk to is potentially a target with no I got different things something that wasn't there before this rise of micro blogger and social media has that changed the way that you work in the way that you're able to gain information.

Let me a stage where it really felt as if microblogging and the internet was sort of opening up the spaces in China in bear in mind try and has really the most sophisticated and expensive censorship of anywhere and some people have even referred to as the world's largest internet because of the way that information is controlled but we did see within the country this sort of flourishing of microblogging Moses pays well, I was really

Fishing bait going online and so it felt like we did have to get new insight that we were getting your sources of information, but even that over the last few years has been very much close down and simile we've seen a lot of pressure on Chinese publications Media outlets that there was a stage where they were doing that's more challenging bold investigative reporting and really they've had to kind of role that right back.

They'll be brought back into line so across the board.

I think we've seen a much more limited space for discussions and simile as you were saying but you know when we go out and talk to people I really should have noticed that people became much more anxious about speaking much more concerned about the consequences of talking to journalists is interesting because there is an idea perhaps in the west at China feels like it's opening up and I get the sense that you would say that to the access that you got in the challenges that you faced in China over those 8 years actually sometimes it became harder to be a journalist since I've left so if

The latest report from the foreign Correspondents club of China they talk about it being the most difficult period in years around a third of the people who responded to the survey talked about sources for a moment for example.

There's growing concern about a pressure on visas the granting or denial of Jesus and so forth and they're certainly feeling from people working on the ground there.

It's just getting much harder to do anything really about the dangerous to sources, but of course the dangers to journalists are very real 94 journalists were killed last year and today is the second anniversary of the murder of Daphne caruana galizia.

Who's the activist and journalist who was killed by a car bomb in her native Malta when you were looking at in Terraria how do you balance those risks when your operating inside the machine? I think that I always compare it to trying to crack a safe in the sense.

You will spend hours days off in weeks and frankly I've had assignments where it's been months of going over the plan again and again trying to a game every possible scenario in your mind trying to come up with multiple exit plans building as strong as other sort of contingency plan, is you and then you get to the stage.

We're ultimately you feel that ok? You can't medicate every rest because I can't tell you when a Russian plane is going to drop a bomb on a hospital that I happened to be standing I can tell you when a Turkish shell my parently hit the town centre that I'm standing in but you get to a place where you feel like I've taken an abundance of precautions to mitigate everywhere and then you just have to be willing to essentially you know hold your nose and jump in and give it your pass.

It is particularly difficult in Syria because there aren't.

Basis and this is something I was very aware of this you heard that could be played when you're talking about civilian military operation.

There is nowhere safe for them to go.

There is no natural Haven there is now displaced people can't that's been set up for them with food and water and a place for them to sleep and that is one of the real challenges of operating in Syria there is no place to go you're living sleeping breathing and all the time you're not staying in a hotel with your other Western colleagues were sleeping on the floor is of people's homes.

You've talked to bite and wondering whether or not you'll get back to Syria this time when was to try and bypass approach seems to go in undercover.

It's something that you've done a number of times and Siri and it does bring its own dangerous both to you and the team that really is a decision about when it's worth taking that risk.

Obviously you get a lot more I divert there.

With the government minder when you're in bed with a and I'm Force but it really is much more dangerous.

Is it depends how you look at it? I'm always much more comfortable going undercover because I like feel invisible both from the point of view of security.

I find it more comfortable but also from the point of view of doing my job.

If people are all staring at me because I can stand out obviously in the Middle East and people are not looking at me and her ignoring me I can observe the situation much more does passionately and have a better sense of what's actually going on the dangers are that you're available because you're low profile.

You're not travelling in a big group.

You're not travelling in a normal car and so yes that does make you exposed to certain risks, but frankly in my experience.

I feel infinitely more comfortable being as far under the radar as I possibly can be I wanted to ask you a little bit about Russian involvement in Syria been highlighted by the latest develop.

But you did a series of reports on what you called Putin's Secret Army and this wasn't in Syria was in the Central African Republic tell me what that story it's quite fascinating what I mean.

I've been fascinated for a long time by Russian mercenaries.

I lived in Russia twice, and I knew obviously they were in Ukraine and then Syria but I was particularly interested in the work.

They were doing in Africa because it wasn't getting coverage and the three journalists Russian independent journalist, who did go to cover it did not come back Alive so I was very interested in the story and I did two trips the first trip the Russian for very welcoming very gracious very open you obviously went there at some as an American journalist CNN very open we were interested in the training program.

That was going on Russian forces training the Central African republic's army and we were given grade access.

We interviewed a Russian man, who is the national Security advisor to the

When we came back for the second trip Sunday was a different story they were immediately suspicious.

Why are they coming back? We were followed the whole time we were harassed the whole time we were stopped at checkpoints.

We couldn't get accreditation for days and then we went to a diamond mine at about 8 hours outside of the capital we were followed by a car full of Russian mercenaries which was actually much more because this is a similar scenario that the three Russian journalists have found themselves in shortly before they were killed you not necessarily word you're going to be killed by the Russian prisoners.

You were that maybe you're going to be killed by people working that is under the patronage of those Russian mercenary groups and will be better now, but then it devolved into the propaganda campaign against with the likes of which I haven't witnessed.

This is what I wanted to talk to you.

This is an incredible an incredibly detailed attempt to discredit you just explain to a little bit.

Well, originally it was a sort of an article saying CNN has this piece coming out and it's all nonsense and we've got the secret like the dirty see what they were actually doing there, then there was a clip which featured hidden camera footage of Us inside bunky the capital which started then they released a 12-minute video highly produced during the course of which they are in my hotel room interviewing some young man who is telling the interviewer that I was sitting on the sofa right here and I had a laptop.

Can I offer to pay $100 to say bad things about the Russians another man who had been harassing us in following US the whole time is interviewed and he says that he worked with us and that I was constantly going to say bad things about Russians then after our peace came out and they saw this whole segment that we did at the diamond mine.

They actually went to the diamond mine which is an 8-hour bumpy journey away.

Found the young man who had taken us to the diamond mine interviewed him.

He again came up with the lineup we pay them $200 to say bad things about do you realise this is an extraordinary amount of effort to go to to discredit or recording but in the process of their doing as underscoring.

How clearly important or wording was because we touch the nerve and indeed you run the story was highly acclaimed were you nervous when you actually come away because normally when you leave a dangerous place when you leave or zone you feel safe you feel a lot so because you've got I don't whatever you did and whatever you said and whoever you're annoyed.

You're at home or in a place of safety when you see those clips going viral after what did that mean? Did you feel therefore that you were still under threat when you were out of there? I think that you know you feel sort of shutter down your spine because you like that is really creepy and someone was following the whole time and someone is was in my hotel room and I'm not comfortable.

I'm pretty confident that I don't need to worry for my personal security to be honest my primary concern was the local journalist who had worked with us on sorry.

I one of our drivers had already been harassed by the Russians and so very quickly we got to work thinking about what we could do to make sure that they were protected because the Central African Republic is for the most part.

So that was my Focus extreme example, but I wonder if China ever trying to discredit stories that you wrote generally to the ones employed by Russia and it's interesting that Russia was the lead the server trolling instead of the fake news when I think it's really worth saying there is we talking about authoritarian regimes here but in fact what's been the messages that we've been getting out of the US from the US president about fake news about a list of making things up the things that have really made journal.

Generally more vulnerable and we saw a very real way the nyt of talking the other week about how one of its journalists actually got a phone call from us official while he was in Egypt your rescue about to be arrested, but the US is not going to help you and I think there's a really important context to which is the messages being sent out by Donald Trump and the impact that in a broadening and legitimizing the idea of fake news and this indeed is something that's not just limited to the Russia or China or indeed to the US I mean in India in the a lot of journalists online particularly women journalists a huge amount of abuse and there is data to show that it is a lot worse for women and then it is for men when you was interested, you might think that there was kind of threats on your life for a lot more real than getting trolled online but actually getting trolled is a lot more unpleasant at times and you know I think.

Want to take the moral high ground and ignore it and don't interact with it, but when you're getting into bed at night and you happen to look at your Twitter feed in someone's written.

She should be the back of the head three times and fed to pigs that is that does disturb you and that does make you feel uncomfortable when people relentlessly making comments about your physical appearance so you can see all the time whatever it is you want to be the better person the bigger person who can just build up at 16 and let it go but it's deeply unpleasant is deeply toxic.

It's the human.

It's more broadly emblematic of serious societal problems.

We have now in terms of the level of public discourse and the dehumanising language.

That's use and any of us who have worked in authoritarian regimes now.

That is the first step on a very slippery slope that ultimately leads to active Ireland's when you were systematically dehumanising people like that.

About people in violent ways, it's a dangerous precedent.

I'd like to bring a Vicky Hood in here as a as a tech journalist you're writing about gaming and it's a male world.

Do you think that you have a harder time online because you're a woman writing about it.

I think it comes to games it harder is a woman in terms of I feel like a fly under the radar a little bit because my name is most people assume.

It's Emile name.

So anything you said your number.

It's probably a guy which also in itself is an issue because they automatically assume.

I must be a male anyway, because I'm writing about games, but it's a strange president really because I feel after that.

I'm lucky because I haven't had a salt threats like sexual assault friends and everyone I know and games has had them constantly and I'm always like I'm so lucky.

Threatened to come to my house and a salt me and really the facts about Stephen a line that I need to consider is something that is really lucky hasn't happened is a bit disturbing more than a bit absolutely absolutely I'd like to talk about this issue that you're here to talk about really which is fortnite because it's a media event which is actually being billed as a cultural phenomenon.

I've got to play UV clip of the moment on Saturday night when millions of fortnite players and viewers realise that the season finale was actually destroying the game on every new Dawn over the top reaction there as well.

They will ever the black hole and fortnite remained offline until yesterday, but if you think that my introduction that this was the biggest Media

The Year signs of bits hyperbolic the gaming industry globally is worth 3 times that of the film industry and fortnite is one of its biggest stars Vic explained there was happy in terms of snow at the weekend the the game the servers for the games of the kind of things the game Romanian keeps online they went down for the nobody was told that it was going to happen.


Just a black hole appeared and everything and people kind of lost their minds about it like the whole nobody was told they had no access is the equivalent of your mum taking your Xbox off you and you're not having it for some but for millions of people ok.

I'm going from New York by Matthew Ball who is venture capitalist and former head of strategy at Amazon Studios Matthew welcome to make fortnite may have needed to overhaul their server infrastructure which might have MS

Is having a game offline for a day or two but they managed to turn what was a scheduled update which was incredibly dull into this huge media event that was covered by the New York Times Vauxhall BBC how did they create such a media storm the way there any said he would do that.

Is they pick non-peak hours when the subway system of the tube isn't required at 2 to 4 in the morning you try to minimise the disruption you need to do similar repairs to revamp their system to organise them to put in patches and so forth and yet was curious not only did they decide to do that at peak hours.

They spent weeks telling audiences that they were going to have a bigger than it was not just that it disappear if there was a much hyped expectation of something significant and when you take.

They did that they essentially needed some rational to explain why they were going to go away.

Why they were going to do the carers and instead of just doing and under conventional sensors going to be gone for 3 days for 20 hours.

He was why they tied into the narrative of the experience.

That's the black hole dimensioning and as you played in the clip at the start of the programme audience really could not understand what was happening in a created this does the 4:30 some hours continue to grow meeting every outlet every commentator everyone in and around the industry to try and understand this mystery for those who don't know it isn't just played this game.

It's also experienced by many devoted fan to log on to watch others play.

I don't people I know or experts just explain to us a bit about the reach of the game.

Yeah, it's really the kind of the Peak thing for games that everyone wants switches.

That's a cultural phenomenon.

With anything it's it this beautiful kind of place where appeals to young appeal to Old it kind of celebrities are talking about that people want to watch other planet and it's just the right time so the fact that everything kind of shot down.

It's a can it is a testament to how big are the fact that it was the widely reported.

It is a massive Testament to how big it's gone it's gone beyond the typical boundaries that games are within and into just being just generally of ethanol really.

It's hard to explain exactly how it's got to the stage has and continues to be that way about the business model Netflix they can play that are close to their chest about just how many people use the game and how much they make what would your best estimate?

Most of the afternoon so that the game produced about 3 billion to 1/2 billion in revenue last year.

There are two things that are really significant about that one is users no matter whether play a minute or 200 hours per month need not spend a dime and separate from their back even were they to spend money in a game it produces.

No benefit.

No advantage whatsoever.

It is similar to purchasing a blue tie as opposed to wearing your standard Redcar it's just about signal into other people in the world some sort of social and the idea that it has become enormously profitable despite requiring nothing and producing nothing a tangible value has really shocked everyone in the industry and to that end if you would have put this up to me cultural hallmarks your Marvel movies your Star Wars movies.

They are still generating more in annual profit from this business model and achieving truly.

200 times the total level of Engagement region activity despite that fact we are on season 10 of this game Vic there is another big thing on the Horizon is League of Legends which is another game.

That's coming increasingly popular and there have been some people make fortune said today that year on year the average viewers to fortnite that was actually done.

7% Is this an attempt to refresh the brand as well as just the infrastructure seasonal but they've done 91011 whatever and now they've just rebranded as it's 2:20 at season 1 and there is a total rebrand.

It's a refresh as a new map.

They've brought in his new elements and it just after all this time.

They've hit the point where they know they need to do something about different and despite losing a lot of money problem for the weekend from being down this in terms of

Campaign is probably the smartest move the riskiest but this message me if I could have done fantastic ok? Well.

Thank you very much to fix to Matthew Ball and also Tania Branigan from the Guardian and and Clarissa would be back next.

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