Tamara Abood, commissioning editor of news and current affairs on Channel 4, talked about her career and the experience of producing dispatches, as part of the ongoing Coventry Conversation series.
Strangely, Abood originally trained as a solicitor, which she described as ‘’possibly the most boring job’’ she had ever had, before leaving the law eight years ago to join television.
Since then she has worked for independent production company ‘Twenty Twenty’, where she directed the Emmy-award winning series Brat Camp, and ultimately moved onto the position she is in now, within Channel 4 news.
During the conversation she showed various clips of undercover dispatches and talked the audience through the difficulties and process behind them. Writes Rob Williams…
She stated that the main reason motivating her into producing these dispatches is because: “they have the power to improve things for the better”.
For example, a Channel 4 dispatch called ‘Saving Africa’s Witch Children”, uncovered the lives of small children being branded as witches in Africa, and the horrors and torturous procedures that they face as a result of it.
When the dispatch aired, it helped Africa to set a national law declaring that branding a child a ‘’witch’’ is now illegal.
‘Saving Africa’s Witch Children’ was a part of a strand of dispatches called ‘Unreported World’, Abood pointed out that the series’ agenda is to: ‘’ send reporters to bits of the world that people aren’t that keen on going to, to tell stories, whether it’s blood diamonds in Zimbabwe or murder in El Salvador.”
She stated that Channel 4 commission dispatches like this because “we feel strongly that what happens abroad is as important as what happens in Britain, unreported world is dedicated to that.”
When asked which part of the process she enjoys the most, Abood wasn’t hesitant in saying: “The edit – the best bit of all, I just love it. You get to pour over every word and frame, the degree of examination we have to do with each program is extraordinary, and in the end it’s worth it.”
Towards the end of the conversation, she was also questioned if she has ever regretted a single dispatch she produced. Her answer was simple, but definitely hit the nail on the head: “I think that if you do regret it, then you’re not doing your job correctly to begin with.”
She added: ”We are constantly saying [at the start of a filming] can we stand this up and are we right to pursue this; If I am asking this question afterwards then that means I haven’t really done my job.”