Conflict correspondents get boost

A new training programme has been established to aid foreign correspondents when working in war zones.

Post September 11, foreign correspondents have faced increasing hostility and danger on entering warring countries, yet continue to show us disturbing images of death and destruction as a matter of course. The people who risk their lives to bring us these images get little thanks for the dangerous job they do.

The Iraq conflict has brought home the harsh realities of the modern world, with newspapers and broadcasters reporting many deaths of fellow journalists sent there and to other global hotspots to tell us back home what is going on out there.

As a result of the growing risks facing foreign correspondents, broadcasting companies have established training programmes for journalists and camera operators going into conflict zones, where ex-Special forces officers and army officials will train the staff of the dangers of entering war-torn countries.

This training may prove invaluable, but many freelance journalists would still not have access to this training.

British television company Channel 4 and Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for the Audio Visual Industries, have joined forces to create and fund a training programme for freelance broadcast war correspondents.

Ex-Special forces personnel will train up to 60 journalists and crew about the dangers of war zones, focusing in particular on awareness, anticipation and avoidance of risk.

Ex-SAS and Managing Director of AKE group, Andrew Kain, will deliver the programme.
He said: “Training really can be the difference between life and death. Things have changed. In the past a press card afforded a certain amount of protection and deaths or injuries were about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now journalists in areas of conflict are considered legitimate targets.”

Chief Executive of Skillset, Dinah Caine said: “Thirteen western journalists were killed last year and in 2002, seven journalists were killed in one week in Afghanistan. There will always be risks in front line reporting, but Skillset wants to see freelancers fully trained and prepared for those risks.”

With the help of schemes and training programmes such as these, foreign correspondents will be better equipped to dealing with the risks of reporting from war zones.