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How I became a… foreign correspondent

Patricia Cruz



Speaking from Mumbai to aspiring journalists gathered via Zoom, Joe Wallen detailed his career as The Telegraph’s south east Asia foreign correspondent, and the path he took to get there. 

Here, part-time trainee Ellen Murphy tells us what she learnt.

Joe entered journalism after realising he wanted to move away from what he called ‘the murky world of political communications’ to report on topics he was more passionate about, and he thought would make a difference. 

After completing his NCTJ at , Joe moved to the south of Spain at the height of the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

He lived between Spain and Morocco covering the crisis for 18 months, becoming a freelance correspondent for various different papers including The Telegraph and Al Jazeera. He began crafting a journalistic reputation within his patch, and built up a wide range of contacts.

“I’m quite an impatient person and I wanted to get into the field immediately after getting qualified,” Joe said. 

Joe was then picked up by The Telegraph to work for them full-time and has reported on topics ranging from human rights to the impacts of Covid-19, covering India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. 

‘If you’re looking for a 9-5, this isn’t it’

Every morning, Joe produces a news memo of five or six stories that he sends to the London office. Meanwhile, he updates the editors on any long-term feature pieces and investigations he is working on.

“If you’re looking for a 9-5, this isn’t it,” Joe said. He explained how the previous night in Sri Lanka, the military killed a protester, and he had to quickly get the breaking story written. 

Stories differ vastly each week, Joe said, who went from covering Mumbai’s carbon neutral plan one week, to reporting on Imran Khan’s resignation in Pakistan the next.  

‘Editors will look for a second language’

Joe speaks Spanish, which was a ‘big help’ to him when freelancing in the Mediterranean because he did not have a budget for a translator. Once journalists have a staff job, papers are willing to pay for translators, Joe said, while admitting his Hindi is a ‘work in progress’. 

However, when initially establishing yourself as a foreign correspondent, a second language is important as it is one of the first things editors look for, he said.

‘Find a gap in the market’

When it comes to choosing a patch, Joe recommended areas that are under-covered and where there is a gap in the market for stories, such as an area inflicted with an ongoing crisis. From there, Joe said it was vital to establish contacts on the ground, particularly if journalists don’t know the local language.

‘Be ready to travel at any moment’

Joe said: “You have to be ready to pick up a backpack and travel at any moment.” 

The line of work has not been all smooth sailing, Joe admitted. He has faced difficulties due to the repression of media freedom in South East Asia and reporting on human rights while trying to avoid deportation has posed a challenge in itself.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Joe was reporting from India during the pandemic, where four million people died. 

He explained how important it was for him to produce hard-hitting and realistic coverage to inform people back home of what was happening.

A good newspaper will support journalists through those negative experiences, he said.

Before reporting from a conflict zone, for example, journalists undertake hostile environment training. Joe named the Rory Peck Trust for its comprehensive training that combines theory and practical tasks such as a staged kidnapping. He said the drills teach you how to react in real-life situations.

‘Rely on your humanity’

Throughout his career, Joe has carried out several sensitive interviews, including with people who have lost family members or have been brutally attacked.

“Some people want to talk to you to raise awareness or tell their story, and that in itself can be quite empowering,” Joe said. 

He advised journalists to rely on their humanity and to make an assessment on how the interviewee is responding. 

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‘Be friendly and approachable’

Joe said when making contacts it is important to be friendly and approachable. Familiarising yourself with other journalists in your patch is invaluable as collaboration can help improve the quality of stories.

Finally, Joe shared his top tips for becoming a foreign correspondent:

  • Find a newsworthy patch
  • Make contacts in your area
  • Take every opportunity and work really hard
  • Don’t just stick to your area of interest

The School of Journalism is proud to regularly invite inspiring guest speakers to talk about their lives as journalists, as well as offering free, practical journalism workshops. 

Find out more here to get a taster of our award-winning training.

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The benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start

Alice Trout



In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life. Between work, family, and other responsibilities, we often forget to take care of ourselves. This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, without judgment. In this article, we will explore the benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start.

Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety

Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. By focusing on the present moment, you can calm your mind and reduce racing thoughts.

  1. Improves mental clarity

Practicing mindfulness can improve mental clarity and focus. It can help to clear your mind of distractions and increase productivity.

  1. Enhances self-awareness

Mindfulness can increase self-awareness and help you to understand your thoughts and emotions better. By being present in the moment, you can learn to recognize your patterns of thinking and behavior.

  1. Improves relationships

Mindfulness can help to improve relationships by increasing empathy and compassion. By being present with others, you can develop a deeper understanding of their needs and feelings.

How to Start Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Set aside time

Set aside a specific time every day to practice mindfulness. It can be as little as 5-10 minutes per day to start.

  1. Find a quiet space

Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. It could be a quiet corner of your home or a quiet park.

  1. Focus on your breath

Focus on your breath and the physical sensations of breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and the sensation of air moving in and out of your body.

  1. Be present

Allow yourself to be present in the moment without judgment. Let your thoughts and emotions come and go without dwelling on them.

  1. Practice regularly

Make mindfulness a regular practice. It takes time to develop the habit, but the benefits are worth it.

In conclusion, practicing mindfulness can have numerous benefits for our mental and physical well-being. It’s a simple yet powerful practice that can be incorporated into our daily lives. By setting aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, we can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental clarity, and enhance our relationships. So why not give it a try? Your mind and body will thank you for it.

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How to create a perfect morning routine for a productive day

Alice Trout



Do you ever feel like your day has gotten away from you before it even starts? One way to combat this feeling is to create a perfect morning routine. Establishing a routine can help you start your day off on the right foot, and set the tone for a productive and successful day. Here are some tips on how to create a morning routine that works for you.

Determine Your Priorities

Before you start creating a morning routine, it’s important to determine what your priorities are. What are the things that you want to accomplish in the morning? Do you want to exercise, meditate, or have a healthy breakfast? Once you have a list of your priorities, you can start creating a routine that includes them.

Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

Waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Try to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This can help establish a consistent routine and make it easier to stick to.

Take Time for Yourself

Many people feel rushed and stressed in the morning, but taking some time for yourself can help alleviate this feeling. Whether it’s meditating, reading a book, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee, taking time for yourself can help you start your day feeling calm and centered.


Exercise is a great way to start your day, as it can help increase your energy levels and improve your mood. Whether it’s a quick jog, yoga practice, or weightlifting session, try to include some form of exercise in your morning routine.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. Eating a healthy breakfast can help fuel your body and provide the energy you need to start your day. Try to include protein, whole grains, and fruit or vegetables in your breakfast.

Plan Your Day

Taking a few minutes to plan your day can help you stay focused and productive. Make a to-do list or set priorities for the day, and review your calendar to make sure you’re prepared for any meetings or appointments.

Stick to Your Routine

Once you’ve created a morning routine that works for you, try to stick to it as much as possible. Consistency is key, and sticking to your routine can help establish healthy habits and improve your overall productivity.

In conclusion, creating a perfect morning routine can help set the tone for a productive and successful day. By determining your priorities, waking up at the same time every day, taking time for yourself, exercising, eating a healthy breakfast, planning your day, and sticking to your routine, you can create a morning routine that works for you. Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you and your lifestyle.

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10 simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in your daily life

Alice Trout



Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, but it can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are several simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in our daily lives. In this article, we will explore 10 such methods that you can easily incorporate into your routine.

Exercise regularly

Physical activity is an excellent way to relieve stress. It helps to release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters. You don’t have to engage in high-intensity workouts to reap the benefits. Even a brisk walk or light yoga can help reduce stress levels.

Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can cause irritability, mood swings, and increase stress levels. Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night to feel well-rested and refreshed.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing can help to calm your mind and body. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes to feel relaxed.

Spend time in nature

Spending time in nature can have a calming effect on your mind and body. Take a walk in the park or go for a hike in the woods to feel rejuvenated.

Practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Set aside a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness meditation.

Listen to music

Music has a soothing effect on our minds. Listening to calming music can help to reduce stress levels. Create a playlist of your favorite relaxing tunes and listen to it when you feel stressed.

Practice yoga or tai chi

Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices that combine physical postures and breathing techniques. They can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

Connect with loved ones

Talking to friends and family members can help to reduce stress levels. It can provide a sense of comfort and support during challenging times.

Practice gratitude

Focusing on the positive aspects of life can help to reduce stress levels. Make a habit of practicing gratitude by writing down things you are thankful for every day.

Take breaks

Taking short breaks throughout the day can help to reduce stress levels. Go for a short walk, practice deep breathing or simply take a few moments to close your eyes and relax.

In conclusion, stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over. By incorporating these simple yet effective methods into your daily routine, you can reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself should always be a top priority.

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