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Ingrid Betancourt — who she?

The parochialism of the UK media plumbed new depths with coverage of the release of the kidnapped Co

By Martin Bright

I rushed home last night hoping to watch the release of Ingrid Betancourt, the former Colombian presidential candidate held by FARC guerrillas for six years. The story had everything. Revolutionary terroists infiltrated by the Colombian army, government agents disguised as aid workers and the very human tale of a woman who wanted to lead her country almost crushed by years of captivity in the jungle.

Sky News at least covered the event, with their anchor trying gamely to explain what was going on. But as they had failed to secure a Spanish translator it must have been mystifying for most viewers. At one point the poor woman (was it Anna Botting) almost squealed with joy when she thought one of the American hostages was about to speak and completely failed to hide her disappointment when it turned out to be yet another Spanish speaker.

Over on the BBC they didn’t even bother covering the event – instead they thought viewers would be more interested in seeing an interview by Stephen Sackur of the fomer head of the Financial Services Authority Howard Davies.

Thankfully, over on CNN, there were some real professionals at work. Clear (and at times emotional) simultaneous translation, footage of Betancourt over the years, experts on the political situation, tributes to the American hostages (who had been spirited out of the country, despite Sky’s hopes).

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