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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 16:28 GMT
Best of BBC News 2004
By Matt Holder
BBC NewsWatch

From Boscastle to Beslan to Basra, BBC News covered it all in 2004.

Here we present the reports that really shone out - on TV, on radio and online - and offer you the chance to vote for your favourite.

From seasoned correspondent Paul Wood to debutant Aminul Hoque, these are the 11 packages that show the BBC at its best, as chosen by editors and departmental heads.

Some pieces are presented in their entirety, others are clipped to give you a flavour of their impact.

All are outstanding pieces of journalism.

A British soldier stops a civilian near Baghdad

1. Hugh Sykes in Basra
PM, Radio Four, October

Sony Award winner Hugh Sykes provided a very strong combination of memorable reportage and insight.

Hugh has a talent for providing a vivid sound picture which conveys the human story, carefully set in the wider political context.

Here he reports from Basra on the relationship between the British forces and the local Iraqi civilians.

- nominated by Stephen Mitchell, head of radio news

A refugee in Darfur

2. Fergal Keane in Darfur
Ten O'Clock News, BBC One, November

The crisis in Sudan was one of the major news stories of the year. Fergal Keane's report from Darfur was sensitively shot and the story was well-told.

It combined dramatic footage of the plight of the refugees with some of the political background.

It brought home the reality of the Sudanese government involvement in the Darfur crisis and the real fear of the black Sudanese people living in the refugee camps.

- nominated by Roger Mosey, head of TV news

Muslim women wearing hijabs

3. Islamic Pride
TX Unlimited, 1Xtra, April

Islamic Pride, an insider's story of Britain's Muslim youth, was meant to draw a new audience to documentary radio, combining solid journalism with a cutting-edge sound.

Aminul Hoque, 26, was born in Bangladesh and brought up in East London.

In this, his radio debut, he investigates how life in his own community has been changing, such as why have so many of the girls started to wear the hijab and would anyone he knows join a jihad?

- nominated by current affairs assistant editor Hugh Levinson

A US Marine scans the area with his binoculars in Falluja

4. Paul Wood in Falluja
Newsnight, BBC Two, November

Paul was with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment from the beginning to the end of their offensive in Falluja.

This is a remarkable and graphic account of the work of the American forces and its compilation is a testament to the bravery and skill of both Paul Wood and his cameraman Robbie Wright.

Although this kind of embedded journalism can never give the full story of the events which took place in Falluja, it does give a real insight into the battle between the American forces and the insurgents.

- nominated by Adrian Van Klaveren, head of newsgathering

A Hmong fighter in Laos

5. One Day of War
This World, BBC Two, May

This was an extraordinarily ambitious project, in which the BBC followed a day in the life of 16 people fighting in 16 wars, on the same day.

One of the characters featured was a Hmong fighter in the jungles of Laos. His conflict was so remote that our crew were the first outsiders his village had ever seen.

This led to quite unbelievable scenes of a whole village in tears as they thought our crew had come to rescue them from their desperate plight.

- nominated by Head of Current Affairs Peter Horrocks

Cars washed away in the flooding

6. Boscastle Floods
News 24, August

This was News 24's pick of the year because it was the outstanding picture story of 2004 on the channel.

News 24 reacted extremely quickly to give a dramatic first hand account of this major breaking news event.

The teams in Boscastle were working in terrible conditions : not just rain but no communications (there was no mobile phone signal) and many had been on the go for up to 24 hours.

- nominated by News 24 senior editor Arthur Penlington

Yasser Arafat's coffin amongst the crowds

7. Arafat's funeral
BBC World, November

On the day of Arafat's burial, our team was broadcasting from the third floor of a half-finished building next to the Muqata compound in Ramallah.

By the time Arafat's coffin was carried off the helicopter, everyone who had a gun, was firing it into the air, as an expression of grief.

For a couple of hours, the compound sounded like a battle ground and the presenter and guests had to hunch on the floor for the rest of the broadcast. Yet the crowd dispersed peacefully as soon as it got dark.

- nominated by BBC World editor Steve Williams

A crewman of the helicopter that carried Arafat's remains prays in Ramallah

8. Arafat's funeral
World Service, November

Roger Hearing and producer Tony Reid were on top of a half-built apartment building overlooking the Muqata compound to cover the arrival of the body of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.

Roger's vivid live commentary is World Service Radio at its most gripping.

From his description of the helicopter landing and the grief of the crowds to the chaos which ensued as they surged towards the coffin, it is enthralling.

- nominated by former Newshour editor Michael Duncan

A pint of beer being drunk

9. Binge Drinking
Newsbeat, Radio 1, August

We went out with drinkers, bar staff and police in Gloucester where we also surveyed pubs and clubs about drinks promotions and fake IDs.

Binge drinking is a key issue for us, we get a tremendous response on the texts when we cover stories.

This programme examined the effects and gave advice, something our listeners are always craving.

- nominated by reporter Richard Westcott

Mamadous Saliou

10. A Migrant's Trail
Africa desk, BBC News website, March

Joseph Winter traced the remarkable journey of Mamadous Saliou "Billy" Diallo, who crossed the Sahara Desert to reach Morocco and eventually arrived in Italy.

These excellent reports, complemented by photo journals and pieces for World Service, highlighted the increasingly desperate methods employed by people in the developing world as immigration controls in Western countries become stricter.

This is a great tribute to Jo's journalistic and planning skills.

- nominated by News Interactive editor Pete Clifton

A mother who lost her nine-year-old daughter cries as she visits the school

11. Beslan coverage
Radio Five Live, September

September 3 showed the flexibility and reactiveness of Five Live at its best.

The network had been taking and discussing the press conference at which Sir Clive Woodward officially resigned as England rugby union coach, when it became clear that something significant was happening at the three-day-old Beslan school siege.

As Sarah Raynsford reports the latest situation, the full enormity of the unfolding events becomes clear; first, as explosions and gunfire become louder and more frequent, and then as Sarah describes the children fleeing from the school, covered in blood.

- nominated by Matt Morris, Head of News, Five Live

Choose your favourite piece
Ten O'Clock News
TX Unlimited
This World
News 24
BBC World
World Service
BBC News website
Radio Five Live
1758 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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