As we release our Year in Focus e-book highlighting the best photography from 2014, we ask our experts across the business for their personal selection from the year.

Bette Lynch, Director for News Photography in EMEA discusses some of the big news stories in the region during 2014 and highlights the powerful work of our photographers:

Editor’s note: To read part one of this story, click here 


UKIP

Image by Peter Macdiarmid

Love him or loath him, Nigel Farage has upset the political apple cart. He has elbowed his way onto the political scene and by the time the general election takes place next May, he could well be the kingmaker in any coalition government.

In a world of increasingly “small” politics, leader’s movements are so heavily orchestrated (or often pooled) that there is very little chance to photograph them with any degree of wit and imagination. Think of just how many images you have seen of David Cameron in the latest high vis jacket and hard hat pretending to chat to “ordinary” people.

Nigel Farage has taken on the three main political parties and, at this point, seems to be winning a considerable groundswell of support from right, left and centre. Add to this his high visibility (but no high vis jacket) with the media, his willingness to be open with photographers and his “man of the people” persona is complete. Always with a pint, often with a cigarette, at open town hall meetings, waders on and up to his waste in flood waters, Nigel Farage is giving the media exactly what they want, great pictures.

In these days of the Westminster village being petrified of photographers ruining their leader’s “image,” Farage has given a masterclass on how to use the press to his best advantage with a good old photo op, and if someone chucks an egg at him in the process, so be it. It’s part and parcel of the political process.

As I say, love him or loath him, by sheer bloody force he has come from nowhere to shake up our political system and next year’s general election.


Gaza

Image by Dan Kitwood

Another year and the conflict between Israel and Palestine continues. This year saw it take an even bloodier turn with a campaign of rockets and bombings on both sides. Israel’s answer to rockets landing within their territory was to raze Gaza to the ground. There were deaths on both sides, world condemnation for the actions of the Israelis and the Palestinians, ceasefires that were broken and the death of four young children who were playing football on a beach in Gaza.

For now the situation is a little quieter, however we know that could change in an instant and the relationship remains fraught between these two neighbours and peoples.

This picture by Dan Kitwood shows the scale of the destruction, the loss of houses and infrastructure that people need to go about their daily lives. The Palestinian Authority have put the cost of rebuilding Gaza at an estimated £4.7 billion of which the international community have been asked to help fund.


Celebrity Trials

Image by Christopher Furlong

Since our suspicions over Jimmy Saville were largely confirmed, and to some degree went far beyond any of us dared imagine, sexual assault charges and accusations have been made against a bewildering array of stars from stage and screen. Headlines screamed of lurid accusations of sexual abuse and assault made against those who were being questioned but with many charged proclaiming their innocence. Many did eventually see the charges dropped, but some saw their cases go to trial in the full glare of the British media.

To those of us of an age, at times it felt like the whole of the 1970s was on trial. The Police and the CPS have been criticised for a “witch hunt” in which many of the accused were found not guilty or had cases collapse due to a lack of evidence but some couldn’t escape justice. Max Clifford, the PR guru, was found guilty of sexual assault and jailed for eight years, a similar fate awaited Rolf Harris and DJ Dave Lee Travis. William Roache, the longest surviving member of the Coronation Street cast was accused of rape but, after a lengthy trial was found not guilty making many wonder why his name was dragged through the press in the first place.

The accusations, the questioning, the trials all became an everyday occurrence, always begging the question, “Who’s next?” At times, the trials felt like scenes from Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ with a succession of familiar faces all called to defend their behaviour from days gone by brought to the attention of the public. At times unsavoury, at times unbelievable but with those involved being such household names, the pictures never failed to make the papers.


Phone Hacking

Image by Ben Pruchnie

Whilst we’re on the subject of trials, the phone hacking case that is rumoured to have cost in excess of £100 million once the cost of the police investigation, defence lawyers and the trial itself are taken into account, came to an end after a trial taking nearly eight months.

The main protagonists, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, had endured months of accusations as to whether either of them were aware of the phone hacking that happened on an industrial scale whilst both of them were editors on Rupert Murdoch owned newspapers. The accusations were so damning, not just the hacking of the rich and famous but ultimately, and more gravely than most of the accusations, the hacking of Milly Dowler’s mobile phone, a schoolgirl murdered in 2002 but still missing when her phone was hacked. Ultimately sealing the fate of the British institution, the News of The World which Murdoch closed after coming under increased pressure to act over the accusations.

This trial had money, power, politics and affairs. A perfect storm of a story. Newspapers turned in on themselves, politicians called for new laws to restrict the actions of newspapers (and ultimately a free press) and every day, Ms. Brooks and Mr. Coulson turned up to hear the case against them. As the trial came to its conclusion, former Editor Rebekah Brooks was found not guilty of all charges whilst Andy Coulson, former Editor of the News of the World and former Director of Communications for David Cameron at Downing Street was found guilty of conspiracy to intercept voicemails and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

How the mighty fall.


Finally…

Image by Christopher Furlong

At the beginning of this year, I sat at my desk wondering what 2014 might bring. There wasn’t really any major set pieces, no royal weddings or babies, just the anticipation of what the news might throw at us. Our job is to illustrate the news, good and bad.

It is easy to concentrate on the troubles that the world has found itself in this year, but there have also been incredibly uplifting stories.

In 2012, a young Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for daring to want an education. She was flown to the UK where she received treatment for her injuries and she survived an assassination attempt. She has continued with her education in her adopted home city of Birmingham whilst speaking out, on a global scale, about the rights of every girl to receive an education for which, in October of this year she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This is Christopher Furlong’s image of Malala on the day the award was announced after she had come out of her chemistry lesson.

 

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