Episode 101 – Counting Casualties with Emily Tripp and Rachel Taylor

As journalists reporting on conflict and post-conflict legal cases, we often have to sum up lots of facts and figures in our reporting (hello Stephopedia). We write about the number of dead and wounded to give an idea about the scale and the impact of the fighting. But where do the numbers come from, who is collecting the data news reports used and how does it get used?

For this episode, we have recruited the help of two women to help us understand those fundamentals and to explore what the meaning of that detailed process of recording the numbers and the names means to those who have suffered in wars.

We speak to Emily Tripp who heads Airwars which describes itself as “a transparency watchdog which tracks, assesses, archives and investigates civilian harm claims in conflict-affected nations”. And from Every Casualty Counts we are joined by Rachel Taylor. For the episode, Janet also chatted to Khalif Hasan Executive Director of the Omeria Community Development Organisation in Somalia.

We reference a lot of past episodes in this conversation, like our earlier chat about drone warfare with Jessica Dorsey and Aditi Gupta (Jessica also has an Airwars connection). And our two earlier episodes that dealt with the deadly Dutch attacks on Hawija in Iraq, one with lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld and a later chat with Lauren Gould and Machiko Kanetake.

We also talked about attacks on Chora in Afghanistan and the conflict in Yemen and reporting by the New York Times and how to decode the press reports.

When we talk about the importance of recording the names of the dead we mention the Bosnian Book of the Dead, the Kosovo Memory Book and the book and film Lost Lives about the troubles in Northern Ireland.

For transparency: after we recorded this episode Janet became a trustee at the UK charity Every Casualty Counts. She’s known Rachel from when she was a trustee a few years ago at Child Soldiers International and earlier this year, Rachel asked her to join the board at ECC.

Emliy recommends a book described as a dark pastoral or as she puts it quaint English life plus death in Barbara Comyns Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead. Rachel is following the podcast Neuroshambles about family life with neurodivergent kids

This podcast has been produced as part of a partnership with JusticeInfo.net, an independent website in French and English covering justice initiatives in countries dealing with serious violence. It is a media outlet of Fondation Hirondelle, based in Lausanne, Switzerland.