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How I became a… foreign correspondent

Patricia Cruz

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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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Journalism

The Top Journalism Websites for News and Analysis”

Alice Trout

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Journalism plays an essential role in keeping the public informed about current events and issues. The internet has made it easier than ever to access a wide range of news and analysis from reputable sources. Here are some of the best journalism sites for keeping up-to-date on the latest happenings around the world:

  1. The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) – The New York Times is a well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture.
  2. The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) – The Washington Post is another well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers in-depth coverage of national and international news, as well as commentary on politics, business, and more.
  3. The Guardian (www.theguardian.com) – The Guardian is a British newspaper that offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture. It has a strong reputation for investigative journalism and has won numerous awards.
  4. BBC News (www.bbc.com/news) – BBC News is the online news division of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). It offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events.
  5. Al Jazeera (www.aljazeera.com) – Al Jazeera is a Qatari news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of the Middle East and North Africa.
  6. Reuters (www.reuters.com) – Reuters is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of business and financial news.
  7. CNN (www.cnn.com) – CNN is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of breaking news and live events.
  8. The Economist (www.economist.com) – The Economist is a British magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on economics and politics.
  9. The Atlantic (www.theatlantic.com) – The Atlantic is an American magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on politics, culture, and technology.
  10. ProPublica (www.propublica.org) – ProPublica is a non-profit organization that focuses on investigative journalism. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of politics, business, and social issues.

Guest blogging is a highly effective marketing strategy that every business should be utilizing. By purchasing PR publications, you can increase traffic and establish authority.

These are just a few examples of the many great journalism websites that are available. Whether you’re looking for breaking news, in-depth analysis, or a particular perspective on current events, these sites are an excellent starting point.

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Journalism

The Ethics of Healthcare Advertising: Balancing the Right to Information with the Risk of Deception

Alice Trout

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Healthcare advertising has the potential to inform and educate the public about important medical treatments and products, but it must be done in an ethical and responsible manner. On one hand, the public has the right to access information about healthcare options that may improve their quality of life or save their lives. On the other hand, there is a risk that healthcare advertising could deceive or mislead consumers, leading to negative consequences for both the companies and the public.

One issue with healthcare advertising is the promotion of prescription drugs for off-label use. Off-label use refers to the use of a drug for a purpose that has not been approved by the regulatory agency, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. While it is not illegal for doctors to prescribe drugs for off-label use, it is illegal for pharmaceutical companies to promote drugs for off-label use. This is because the FDA has not determined that the drug is safe and effective for the unapproved use.

Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies have been known to engage in off-label promotion in order to increase sales. This can be harmful to patients, as they may be prescribed a drug that has not been thoroughly tested for the specific condition they are suffering from. In some cases, off-label use of a drug can even be dangerous.

Another issue with healthcare advertising is the use of exaggerated or misleading claims. This can include making false or unproven statements about the effectiveness of a drug or treatment, or downplaying the risks and side effects. Such practices can lead to consumers making informed decisions about their healthcare, and can also harm the reputation of the healthcare industry as a whole.

In order to strike a balance between the right to information and the risk of deception, it is important for both regulatory agencies and the healthcare industry to prioritize ethical practices in healthcare advertising. This can include measures such as strict oversight by regulatory agencies, clear guidelines for the approval and review of advertising materials, and campaigns to educate the public about how to evaluate and interpret healthcare advertising. By taking these steps, we can ensure that the public has access to accurate and reliable information about healthcare options, while also protecting against deceptive practices that can harm both consumers and the healthcare industry.

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Journalism

Supporting Startup Founders’ Mental Health: The Importance of Prioritizing Well-Being in the Fast-Paced Startup World

Alice Trout

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As the startup world continues to thrive and grow, it’s important to recognize that the fast-paced, high-stress environment can take a toll on the mental health of founders and employees. In fact, research has shown that entrepreneurs are at a higher risk for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression compared to the general population.

One key factor that contributes to this risk is the pressure to succeed and the fear of failure that can come with starting and running a business. Additionally, the long hours and lack of work-life balance that are often associated with the startup world can also contribute to mental health challenges.

It’s essential that startups prioritize the mental health of their founders and employees, not only for the well-being of the individual, but also for the overall success of the business. Research has shown that mental health issues can negatively impact productivity and decision-making, which can have serious consequences for a company.

There are a few steps that startups can take to support the mental health of their team members:

  1. Encourage open communication and create a safe space for employees to talk about their mental health concerns.
  2. Offer resources such as counseling and mental health benefits to employees.
  3. Foster a culture of self-care by promoting healthy habits such as regular exercise and proper nutrition.
  4. Set boundaries and encourage work-life balance to prevent burnout.

For those not ready to go to the doctor or looking for support, mental health startups Europe offer help through apps.

It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s crucial that startups prioritize the well-being of their founders and employees. By taking steps to support the mental health of their team, startups can create a positive and healthy work environment that leads to success for both the business and its employees.

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