Description: Working as a military journalist is anything but easy. All professionals have their approaches and working methods to stay safe.
The world has seen many great military journalists. Those are the people who risk their lives to tell the truth to the peaceful part of the world. Military journalism is nothing like any other job. You are often a foreigner in the month of a military zone where everyone is heavily armed but you. You have only a camera, a dictaphone, and other essential journalistic gear. It is beyond most people’s understanding of how one can do such a thing voluntarily. Of course, military journalists have their ways around when it comes to navigating military zones. They have special working methods to keep them safe in the field. Let’s see what they are.
Plan and research
Your life literally depends on the quality of your research when it comes to working in military zones. Planning and research should take place way before your “deployment” to the conflict zone. For one, journalists rely heavily on contacts they can find in those foreign lands. They’ll need translators, guides, and other people, probably locals, who can help them understand the nature of the conflict and culture better.
Also, planning should come in multiple forms. Military zones are not the most predictable places on Earth. This means you have to be ready that your plan A, B, and F will fail even before your arrival. Hence, developing a large variety of options and contacts will advance the journey. How to develop them is a different question. Any journalist would have their ways of building networks and finding necessary sources.
It goes without saying that any journalist who’s going to a conflict zone must have military training. If a journalist makes simple mistakes by confusing weapons or conflict riots, they will immediately discredit themselves. This simply shows a lack of professionalism and understanding of the situation. A military journalist needs the respect of those around them to gain more trust and information. Moreover, basic military knowledge comes with knowing how to do first-aid when needed. Hence, understanding the nature of the conflict and the ability to read the situation from the military perspective will certainly serve as an advantage in this case.
First things first, a military journalist should know better than wearing anything military looking. This is the same as putting a large target on yourself. Whatever you are taking to a conflict zone should not take too much space. Hence, every item you put in that backpack (never a suitcase) counts. You are going light and think of practicality first. You can leave all that fancy gear and super cool roof tents for leisure activity. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can read this dune rooftop tent review to see some good examples of modern tourist equipment for yourself. Also, don’t forget a notebook and a pen.
There are many situations where you can’t rely on technologies, partly because of their unreliability, partly because of the safety measures. You can easily destroy paper notes before reaching a random checkpoint. You may regret having something sensitive written on your laptop, especially if it’s not encrypted. Other things that make the military journalist gear also include the basic medication, photocopies of all essential documents, handwritten emergency numbers, and other essential things for work, like extra batteries or GPS.
Frankly, there is no need to tell military journalists how to do their job right. After at least one work in the field, any journalist will learn about their mistakes and see how to improve their work. Hence, personal experience in the field serves as the best guide to develop the right working techniques. Now, every journalist would have their own tips and methods that they find essential when working in the field. Their experience will tell them what works and what does not.
The bottom line: do no harm
The main goal is to remember that a military journalist in a conflict zone can do either good or bad to the people. There’s nothing in between. If this person is poorly prepared, didn’t do the research ahead of time, doesn’t have the right equipment or basic understanding of the war, they are doing more harm than good. Such behavior hurts not only them but everyone around them, the media they are working for, and readers or viewers who take in their work.
Either way, a bad job done by military journalists will only cause harm to innocent people. Hence, whatever a journalist is planning to do in the field, whatever methods they are going to use, or goals to follow, they should rely on the golden rule. Do no harm. If a journalist can’t do a good job, it’s better not to do any job at all.