Breathing - a new sculpture for Broadcasting House
UN Secretary-General dedicates memorial to journalists
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, will
pay tribute to journalists and crew killed upholding freedom of
speech at an event in central London tonight (Monday 16 June).
The Secretary-General will dedicate a light sculpture on top of
the new wing of the BBC Broadcasting House building, which
projects a beam of light up to one kilometre into the night sky,
to the memory of journalists and news staff killed in the line of
The Secretary-General is guest of honour at the event which is
co-hosted by the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and
the BBC, to officially inaugurate the memorial, called Breathing.
He will address a distinguished audience of
politicians, journalists, former hostages and families of people
killed in pursuit of reporting the news.
Tonight's inauguration follows the recent deaths of two BBC
journalists in Afghanistan and Somalia: Abdul Samad Rohani and
Nasteh Dahir Faraah.
Rodney Pinder, Director of INSI, said: "These men and women are
the unsung heroes of democracy, for without a free press there
can be no freedom. This shaft of light in the capital of
international journalism is a visual reminder of their
Introducing the Secretary-General, BBC Chairman Sir Michael Lyons will say: "We are all reminded of the daily risks taken by
journalists in some of the world's most dangerous places.
implicit contract, whereby journalists place their lives at risk
to help us understand the world and its events better, needs to
be reaffirmed at moments like this. That sacrifice is properly
valued and the loss is widely shared."
Thanking Mr Ban Ki-moon for his continued personal commitment to
freedom of expression and improving safety of all journalists and
news teams working around the world, BBC Director-General Mark
Thompson says: "We should never forget or underestimate the risks
that journalists reporting from hostile environments face.
hope this poignant memorial will serve as a nightly reminder of
the sacrifice made by many in the cause of free expression and
Eighteen months ago the UN Security Council passed Resolution
1738, which demanded action by member states to end violent
attacks on the news media and end impunity for those who kill
An INSI study issued in March last year found that every week,
for the last ten years, at least two journalists or news staff
have been killed trying to report the news; and in 90% of cases
no-one is brought to justice.
Breathing and Memorial poem
The sculpture, situated on the roof of the new wing of BBC
Broadcasting House in Portland Place in London W1, is a glass and
steel construction entitled Breathing by the international
artist Jaume Plensa.
Every night, a light beam, extending one
kilometre into the sky, will illuminate the sculpture for 30
minutes, in tandem with the BBC's ten o'clock news bulletin.
Selected after an international competition as part of the BBC's
public art programme for Broadcasting House, this artwork takes
its inspiration from the audio life of the building (home to the
BBC's Audio & Music division), shaped as it is in the form of a
giant, 10 metre high, listening glass.
It also creates a third
spire in the trinity of spires made up by the BBC radio mast on
the roof of the Grade II* listed Broadcasting House and the spire
of the adjacent All Souls Church.
The words which are inscribed
around the sculpture in a spiral of continuous text evoke the
antithetical themes of speech and silence, life and death.
sculpture is dedicated to news journalists killed on location.
The final form of Breathing is the result of a dialogue between
the artist Jaume Plensa, the Broadcasting House architect Sir
Richard MacCormac and his team from MJP Architects, and public
art consultants Modus Operandi.
The glass and steel construction
of the sculpture has evolved through close collaboration between
the artist, the architects and the engineers Whitby Bird &
In addition, the BBC commissioned a poem by ex-war correspondent
and poet James Fenton, entitled Memorial.
This poem complements
the sculpture, remembering the bravery and self-sacrifice made by
news journalists and their crews from news organisations across
The full text of the poem is included in the press
Live pool pictures for broadcasters
A live event pool is being made available to all broadcasters,
hosted by BBC News. It will include material from inside the
event including speeches, as well as the illumination moment.
Pool available: 2125–2200hrs local.
Available to all via TVC or BT Tower. Local end TC (F909).
Registered users can obtain photographs of the sculpture,
illuminated as it will appear after its dedication, from
Notes to Editors
More than 200 reporters have lost their lives since the start of 2007.
News staff are vulnerable not just in conflict zones but also to
targeting from criminal and paramilitary groups.
The International News Safety Institute (INSI) website contains further statistics and
information about danger zones.
The INSI is a non-governmental
organisation dedicated to the safety of journalists
and media staff. It is a network of media organisations, press
freedom groups, unions and humanitarian campaigners working to
create a culture of safety in media in all corners of the world.
BBC Press Office