Thursday, June 3, 2010
I am a journalist so I understand better than many people how newspaper stories are sourced, written and put out to the population.
That is why it is important to explain something about yesterday's feature that appeared on the BBC website.
The star of the BBC story is, apparently, Justin Walley. The truth though is, of course, that I am just a small part in this project:
It is Bjorn heidenstrom that has dedicated more than a year away from his family. He dreamt up the idea of 'the shirt' and it is Bjorn that spent 9 months alone on the road in Europe and Africa before I joined him.
But this project is much more still than Bjorn and the guy who hitchbiked with him for the last leg from Kenya to South Africa.
'The Shirt 2010' would never have happened if Bjorn's girlfriend and children had not agreed to sacrifise one year away from the man they love. 600 shirts would not have already been collected had it not been for the continued support of vital team members like Ingar in Norway, Steve Hall and David Bright in England and the many thousands who have helped along the way with beds, food and shirts such as the good people of Glossop, Lusaka and Riga.
Without Steve their might easily be 200 less shirts; without David many many shirts would never have been collected; without Ingar 600 shirts would never have left Norway and now stand proudly sewn together in Johannesburg.
This project has been financed by individuals, not by sponsors. Tens of thousands of emails have been sent to football clubs, associations, fan groups, TV companies and newspapers. At least 90 percent of these never even received a reply. When the public reads the BBC story they do not know about the half a dozen people sat by their laptops at 3am on a February morning writing blogs and begging letters in the desperate hope that their actions would eventually lead to great success.
I started this blog by talking about understanding how the media works. The BBC kindly approached me because they are interested in the 'English angle' to the story. They and other British media have taken the 'English angle' of 'The Shirt 2010' because that is what the majority of their readers are interested in, and it is the thing that, ultimately, helps them sell papers or gain readers.
The bigger picture is that Justin Walley is one small cog in this project; one member of a team.
And, yes, we are trying to create the world's biggest football shirt - but we are doing this so that the world's media tells our story and, as a result, enable us to create increased awareness of the plight of the world's refugees.
Thanks to the BBC for their brilliant support. You can read the story here