Would you report from the war front?
Who would want to go to war and report? As events unfold in Ukraine, could you imagine yourself preparing to go into the field of combat to bear witness up close, experience the perils of war and risk death?
About 9 years ago at a BBC security and risk course I took some Masters students to listen to the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen. Be prepared that you may not come back he told them. Be prepared that you could die. I have a recording that played back to students made for sombre reflection.
Being a warco is dangerous (No **** shylock); it’s also addictive and comes with a perverse sense of glamour. You’ve seen the war movies Salvador (1986). In reality many reporters clamour to be involved. It’s where you test yourself less the creature comforts n’ all.
I know of a few reporters who’ve suffered PTS, some who’ve come close to their last breadth, but will sign on to go back. Why? On Woman’s Hour (BBC Radio 4) SkyNews’ producer Dominique Van Heerden, who was ambushed in Kyiv with her reporting team, told the presenter she was looking to go back to Ukraine.
How do you train for this? Some years back I had the opportunity to work with Nato in their war games as editor of a team of international reporters. I had previous experience reporting from Apartheid South Africa, reporting special ops exercises in Ghana and years later would be in the Syrian border making a film.
Despite it being a game, Nato’s exercise came close to experiences. Granted there would be no casualties, but the experience was so real that some reporters left to go back home, others cried and many learned truths about themselves. The special forces were real, and they got pretty aggressive with us. On one occasion we had laser scopes ( red dots) trained on us.
Would I go? There’s a twitch that pulls me. Beyond the theatre, there’s a sense of time gone, and how to make goof of learned behaviour: leadership, responsibility, thinking on your feet; being selfless and team work that plays a role in various scenarios in life.