Alan Johnston

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For other people named Alan Johnston, see Alan Johnston (disambiguation).
Alan Johnston
Born (1962-05-17) 17 May 1962 (age 52)
Lindi, Tanganyika
Education MA in English and politics, University of Dundee.
Diploma in journalism studies Cardiff University.
Occupation Journalist
Parents Graham and Margaret Johnston

Alan Graham Johnston (born 17 May 1962) is a Scottish journalist working for the BBC. He has been the BBC's correspondent in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and the Gaza Strip, and is currently the correspondent in Rome. Johnston was kidnapped by a group of Palestinian militants on 12 March 2007, and released nearly four months later on 4 July, after Hamas' seizure of control in Gaza.

Early life[edit]

Johnston was born in Lindi, Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania),[1] to Scottish parents.[2]

Education[edit]

Johnston was educated at the Dollar Academy, an independent school which is said to be the oldest co-educational day and boarding school in the world, in the small town of Dollar in Clackmannanshire in central Scotland,[3] followed by the University of Dundee, where he graduated with an MA in English and politics.[1] He also completed a diploma in Journalism Studies from Cardiff University.[1]

Career[edit]

Johnston joined the BBC in 1991, and has spent eight years as a correspondent for them, including in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as well as Kabul, Afghanistan.[1] He was in Kabul when Afghanistan was still under the control of the Taliban.[4] He was due to be the BBC's full-time correspondent in Gaza until 1 April 2007, and at the time of his kidnapping was the only foreign reporter with a major Western media organisation to still be based in the city.[1][5][6]

Johnston covered many major stories in Gaza for the BBC, including Israel's unilateral disengagement plan in 2005, Hamas winning the 2006 legislative elections, the 2006 Israel-Gaza conflict and the Palestinian factional violence of late 2006 to 2007.[4]

Johnston is regarded by the BBC as a respected, experienced journalist,[7] and due to his local knowledge, he was someone other journalists would turn to for information when in Gaza.[6] Prior to being kidnapped however, Johnston was not a journalist well known to the general public. Following his release he announced his intention to return to obscurity[8] though, as of January 2008, he took over the presentation of the BBC World Service version of the programme From Our Own Correspondent.

Johnston's BBC colleague Paul Adams noted that it was Johnston's "job to bring us day after day reports of the Palestinian predicament in the Gaza Strip."[1] Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Information Minister, has described Johnston as a "friend of our people", and said that Johnston "has done a lot for our cause."[9] Imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti has also called Johnston a "friend of the Palestinian people".[10]

When not working as a correspondent, Johnston produces radio reports, one of which, on life after the Taliban, won a Sony Radio Academy Award bronze.[11] Johnston has also worked as programme editor of The World Today and as a general reporter in the BBC World Service newsroom.[12]

From November 2011 Johnston has been the BBC's correspondent in Rome.

The London Press Club named Johnston as British Broadcasting Journalist of the Year at an awards ceremony held on 10 May 2007. Accepting the award for Johnston, who was spending his 60th day in captivity, his father said that while the award meant a lot, "my family ... would like Alan to stand here today himself."[13]

The day after he was released, Johnston was awarded a prize by Amnesty International for his radio reports on human rights in Gaza, praising him for his "commitment to telling ordinary peoples' stories."[14]

Kidnapping[edit]

Alan Johnston banner at BBC TV Centre

On 12 March 2007, Johnston was kidnapped by the Army of Islam. His captivity led to many protests worldwide. Hamas put immense pressure on the Army of Islam, including (according to a senior Hamas militant) the threat to hunt them down and kill them if they didn't release Johnston.[15][16] On 4 July 2007, Johnston was freed. He was taken to meet Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh before leaving with an entourage of British diplomats to Jerusalem.

Honours[edit]

On 19 June 2008, the University of Dundee conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws upon Johnston.

Books[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Staff writer (12 March 2007). "Fears for BBC Gaza correspondent". BBC News. Archived from the original on 16 March 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2007. 
  2. ^ Raymond Hainey (16 April 2007). "The 'very grounded' journalist who won acclaim for his work in world's war zones". The Scotsman. Retrieved 11 May 2007. 
  3. ^ Mitchell Prothero (9 April 2007). "Journalist's tragic role in Gaza's deadly rivalries". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 9 April 2007. 
  4. ^ a b Staff writer (12 March 2007). "Living with risk in Gaza". BBC News. Archived from the original on 15 March 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2007. 
  5. ^ Kevin Flower and Octavia Nasr (12 March 2007). "BBC fears its Gaza correspondent abducted". CNN. Archived from the original on 15 March 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2007. 
  6. ^ a b Conal Urquhart (13 March 2007). "Masked gunmen kidnap British reporter in Gaza City street attack". London: Guardian Unlimited. Archived from the original on 20 March 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2007. 
  7. ^ Rory McCarthy (14 March 2007). "Hamas government acts to free kidnapped BBC man". London: Guardian Unlimited. Archived from the original on 17 March 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2007. 
  8. ^ "BBC's Alan Johnston is released". BBC News. 4 July 2007. Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  9. ^ Staff writer (11 April 2007). "Broadcasters in BBC reporter plea". BBC News. Retrieved 11 April 2007. 
  10. ^ Associated Press (18 April 2007). "Barghouti calls for release of BBC journalist". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 18 April 2007. 
  11. ^ "The News Programme Award". Sony Radio Academy Awards. Archived from the original on 10 April 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2007. 
  12. ^ BBC (March 2007). "Biographies - Alan Johnston BBC Gaza Correspondent". Retrieved 10 April 2007. 
  13. ^ Craig Brown (11 May 2007). "Missing reporter is journalist of year". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 11 May 2007. 
  14. ^ Staff writer (5 July 2007). "BBC's Johnston wins Amnesty award". BBC News. Archived from the original on 11 July 2007. Retrieved 5 July 2007. 
  15. ^ Time magazine 16 July 2007 issue. p. 15
  16. ^ Tim McGirk (5 July 2007). "Hamas' Next Move". Time.com. Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. Retrieved 13 August 2007. 

External links[edit]