Guest Post – Michael Pope: the lure of foreign correspondence
October 26, 2010 4 Comments
In a double-whammy of Wannabe Hacks guest posts, Michael Pope kicks us off with the lure of foreign correspondence. Something you’ve ever been interested in? Noble profession? Got any advice for Michael? Comment below!…
Earlier this month a room filled by prospective journalists was silenced. Sean Ryan, the editor of The Sunday Times’ Foreign Desk, tried, in an hour, to describe the life of a foreign correspondent. “I have 18 staff foreign correspondents, only one is in a long-term relation.” As one looked over the audience you could see these words affecting everyone.
Some were bored; why should they worry themselves about some other county’s problems when their own is so far from perfect? Others were uncomfortable; learning how so many women and men met their end is uneasy for anyone. And then there was me. I already knew what I wanted to do before I arrived to the talk. At its conclusion my thoughts were merely confirmed.
I will be a foreign correspondent and it’s only a matter of time.
To me it is the perfect job. Not just compared to other journalistic roles, but in relation to everything. What other role enables you to be at the cusp of history, the formation of nations, the fall of governments and the end of wars? I know there will be those who read this and simply see the words of a naïve 21-year-old, and to a certain extent they will be right. I am white, middle-class male who has never really experienced any great trauma. Despite all of this, I do not think it determines if you are a success in this: the most varied of professions.
If all those who wanted to be foreign correspondents, or journalists for that matter, were already burdened with these experiences, stripped of their enthusiasm, naivety and willing, then the chances are they would never have embarked on this journey.
I want to travel to China and tap into its inward and enclosed society. I want break the strangle hold of the state media and I want to bring China to the rest of the world.
Despite all the attention the Middle Kingdom receives, very few people know what the country is like. To me it is a region on the brink of uproar. I cannot imagine how over one billion individuals will continue to remain contented whilst those in power revel in ever-increasing economic success. I do not think the term civic unrest does justice to what is potentially brewing in China; I want to be there as witness.
I suppose that is what Sean Ryan was trying to compound in all of us when he gave his talk. To be willing to go to another country, away from all that you know and love to find a story takes something more than just motivation, you have to be a little bit different. Of course I don’t know if I’m cut out for it, I may find that there’s nothing worse than trudging around foreign places getting paid pennies…
But I have to find out.