BBC insight on hostile situations

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BBC New Broadcasting House in London

BBC New Broadcasting House in London

A group of 19 students from John Moores University’s journalism department went to BBC New Broadcasting House in London for the day to attend an event concerning Working in Hostile Environments.

Celebrity BBC journalists on the panel for the discussion on what it is like to work in a hostile environment included Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen, and Defence Correspondent, Caroline Wyatt.

Ex-BBC Breakfast presenter, Sian Williams, chaired the opening session in front of a packed Radio Theatre.

In a digital age where journalists have to tweet and upload video from the frontline of numerous global conflicts, most in the panel agreed when Jeremy Bowen said: “Being a journalist is more dangerous than when I started in 1989.”

From there, candidates were split into colour coded groups to take part in separate workshops.

Professor Neil Greenberg took the workshop on the ever-growing issue of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) of foreign correspondents in the field. Professor Greenberg had to admit: “Most people that get PTSD don’t go to get help.”  He added that for foreign correspondents to have good mental health it is necessary for them to build up a network of people they can trust and, slowly but surely, share to them bits to talk about.

With the civil war in Syria, there are over 30 journalists missing there today so this is currently the most dangerous assignment for a foreign correspondent. In the next workshop, BBC’s Deputy Head of High Risk, Karen Peek, took candidates through ways of drawing up a risk assessment plan in high risk areas.

BBC panel at the Working in Hostile Environments discussion

BBC panel at the Working in Hostile Environments discussion

Down in the basement, an Introduction to Battlefield First Aid talk was given by Grant Wootton. Grant described some very tense situations in Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where techniques in applying a tourniquet to stop the bleeding from a wound were shown.

It was back to a packed Radio Theatre for another discussion, headed by Sian Williams this time, on the responsibility of those that commission freelancers by publishing their work, to end the day.

Final year International Journalism student, Jack Maguire said: “It was long day, but well worth the 3am start from Liverpool. The passion that guys like Jeremy Bowen have for the work they do is certainly inspiring.”

About Richard Eves, JMU Journalism