Corrine L. McDermid, a former Masters in Journalism student writes to me having been enveloped by tear gas at a Republican National Convention:
"I never figured Loyal Mariner [military] training would come in handy at home"Please let me explain. At the University of Westminster we run a unique programme. Journalism students are airlifted into a war zone in Sweden, where Nato carries out its war games.
There students come into close contact with armed forces in evacuations, snipers at work, soldiers quelling riots and real Special Forces, who do get very aggressive. [sorry no controls on this video yet].
Nato welcomes us the first day, then tells us the gloves are off. It's a game within a game. They're not there to help you, rather treat you as real journalists after a story.
At the launch of the programme, I was the editor in the field, having reported for broadcasters in a few conflicts myself. We had about 20 different personnel; our students, others from elsewhere and some BBC reporters.
My colleague then Geoffrey Davies was running a news team back at the university putting together a half hour programme that was being beamed to the UK's highest military brass in Northholt.
The programme gives the military a chance to see what journalists, the new breed armed with tech stuff are like and it gives journalists the rare opportunity to go into a combat zone without actually getting killed.
After each day of the two week exercise we evaluate back at base where students went wrong and what they could do if they found themselves in a "hot zone".
The Pay-off for Conflict Reportage
Most students who've made the programme have gone onto the types of jobs, newly qualified and seasoned journalists dream off.
- David Heathfield now works for Nato as a VJ in Afghanistan
- Tamer is a correspondent for Al Jazeera in Gaza
- Victoria is a VJ with a South West of England company [ will find link]
So back to Corrine, now a senior journo with The Uptake.org. This is the video where she makes a reference to Loyal Mariner.
Still with my editor's hat on, I'd ask you to evaluate and recognise what you would have done differently?
- Is it all in the preparation?
- What might help the filming?
- What might aid the reportage
"We've been living the dream-- uploading strait to the internet via a 3G connection with an iPhone or a Nokia N95!"