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Oliver Poole: Tales of a War Correspondent

“It was simple enough; don’t go out at night, don’t go out alone, don’t stay anywhere longer than 15 minutes and don’t tell anyone you’re coming.”

These are the rules that are second nature to experienced war correspondent, Oliver Poole, of whom I had the pleasure of listening to at a guest lecture.

Poole has worked for a number of respected publications including The Independent, The Guardian, BBC News and The Observer, but that’s not why he gave this lecture. He wanted to give a taste of the reality of being a war correspondent, a very honest and interesting subject.

Pictured: Oliver Poole, War Correspondent

Having been at the frontline of the Iraqi invasion, at the infamous Gaza strip and also the currently problematic Libya, a top tip was to fit in with the local populace. The seasoned correspondent explained that they’d drive an older vehicle that was less protected, and dress the same as the locals, because in essence this gave them more protection.

The ability to blend in is clearly paramount to this profession. Poole gave a very personal insight into his feelings about the dangers presented daily in his job, including regular kidnappings of western press members.

“They came up with the worst possible way to scare the shit out of you,” he exclaimed, referring to local cells.

It was always a real risk and one of the few pieces of technology Poole recommends is a BGAN satellite phone, it’s not cheap to run, but it gets signal almost anywhere – a necessity for anyone who is a target in a foreign country.

Regarding this bitter-sweet role, Poole actually managed to portray just a little of what he had experienced, and the information he gave seemed to really open many of the viewers eyes. Being a war correspondent is obviously no easy feat, and it was an honour to hear of such tales in the name of journalism.

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