NEW THREATS to media freedom were the theme of the successful London Freelance Branch conference on 26 January. BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston (above) noted that "it's becoming increasingly hard for journalists in war zones to present themselves as neutral observers". When he tried this in captivity with the Army of Islam, their leader said he "had made a nice speech" but it would not set him free. NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear identified a working environment of "churnalism", with reporters expected to churn out ten stories a day. The conference finished a few hours after the Freelance deadline: hear our audio report online and read full text in March.