the-south-asian.com January 2008
- Book Reviews
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Reading Headlines …..
- the Top Three South Asian presenters
It was not an easy task to shortlist the three best and internationally-watched presenters from South Asia. The field was wide and open – with the seasoned and the not-so-seasoned. We somehow arrived at a list of ‘Top 10’, which was then sent to our readers for their final verdict. The brief to our readers was simple – objectivity, credibility, presentation, screen elegance, and intellectual sophistication. The rest was easy. The three front runners were obvious when the results came in – but one name, in particular, stood out far ahead of the rest – that of George Alagiah. Though Sanjay Gupta and Mishal Husain were the runners-up, they still have a lot of catching up to do to reach the standards set by George Alagiah!
Well – get to know them just a little bit better!
A journalist, a news presenter, a writer, a patron of community causes, and a humanist – George Alagiah has seen and reported chaos from the world over – hunger, famine, war, genocide, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, and aftermaths of natural disasters. His keen observations and sensitive reporting have made him one of the most respected figures in broadcast journalism – watched and heard everyday by millions.
The suave, thoughtful and urbane George Alagiah, 52, is one of the most respected figures in broadcast journalism. He is the sole presenter of BBC1's Six O'Clock News and has been presenting World News Today on BBC World, the BBC's international news channel, since it was first launched. He has seen history being created. He has observed both men and Nature at their worst and has brought us the true facts. He has published books, and is a patron of the Fairtrade Foundation. He has contributed to several British newspapers including The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and the Daily Express.
'I was born in one continent, grew up partly in another and finally settled in a third. I regard that as a privilege'. George Alagiah was born to Tamil parents in Sri Lanka in 1955, who moved to Ghana in 1961, and seven years later to the UK. Twelve-year-old George was sent to a boarding school in Portsmouth. He later graduated with a degree in politics from the University of Durham. He first joined the BBC in 1989 after seven years in print journalism with South Magazine.
George Alagiah was one of the BBC's leading foreign correspondents before he stepped behind the studio desk – and brought with him a wealth of experience from the field where he had spent time reporting some of the most significant events of the last decade. He has interviewed the prominent people of our time. Asked, in a recent interview, about the most memorable interviews in his career he says: the late Yasser Arafat and Nelson Mandela.
Last year George Alagiah published his second book ‘A Home From Home’ – a reflective and an outspoken challenge to multiculturalism in the UK. He has suggested in this book that different communities and races living separate and insular lives in the UK may be fuelling terrorism on British soil and that many Asian-dominated schools have become ‘de facto faith schools’. "Segregation and deprivation have become a 'combustible combination", he says.
George likes to spend his free time "… as far away from the news world as possible, preferably with my family, in an open space with a glass of wine and a cigar!"
Descent: Sri Lankan
Born: Sri Lanka, 1955
Education: Graduate degree in Politics, University of Durham
Lives in London with wife Frances, and two teenage sons Matthew and Adam.
Most significant events covered: the Rwandan genocide, the civil war and famine in Somalia, the plight of the marsh Arabs in southern Iraq, the civil wars in Afghanistan, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, the Kosovan refugee crisis, the NATO liberation of Pristina, the international intervention in East Timor, and the aftermaths of September 11th, the Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Pakistan.
Prominent people interviewed: Nelson Mandela; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Kofi Annan, Yasser Arafat; President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Tariq Aziz of Iraq.
Awards won: Critics Award and the Golden Nymph Award at the Monte Carlo Television Festival (1992); award for Best International Report at the Royal Television Society (1993); commendation from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (1993); Amnesty International's Best TV Journalist award (1994); the One World Broadcasting Trust Award (1994); the James Cameron Memorial Trust Award (1995); and the Bayeux Award for War Reporting (1996). In 2000 he was part of the BBC team which collected a Bafta award for its coverage of the Kosovo conflict.
Books written: ‘A Passage to Africa’ published in September 2001. It won the Madoc Award at the 2002 Hay Literary Festival.
‘A Home From Home’ published in 2006
Social causes supported: patron of The Presswise Trust, the NAZ Project, the Parenting, Education and Support Forum and the Fairtrade Foundation.
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