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How Do I Become a War Correspondent?

Becoming a war correspondent requires a blend of journalism skills, courage, and resilience. Start by earning a degree in journalism or related field, gain experience in local news, and gradually move into conflict reporting. Are you ready to face the challenges of this demanding career path?
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A person who wants to become a war correspondent can pursue several different career paths to start reporting from war zones. One option is to attend journalism school and get formal training in journalism and related topics. Another is to start working from the ground up in news agencies to eventually acquire a position as a staff correspondent. War correspondents can come from very different backgrounds; the military uses journalists, for example, and military service can be another way to start a career as a war correspondent.

War correspondents travel to regions where conflict occurs and report on events in a variety of media. Correspondents include writers as well as photographers. The work is highly demanding and can be emotionally and physically stressful as well as dangerous. There is a risk of being killed or kidnapped while reporting, even though international conventions strongly frown on interference with the press.

Photographers can be war correspondents.
Photographers can be war correspondents.

One traditional way to become a war correspondent is to go to college to become a journalist. Journalists typically have undergraduate degrees in topics like journalism or communications and may pursue a master's degree from a journalism school to get advanced training. While in school, they often work for their school papers and pursue internships with the media to acquire skills and professional contacts. When they graduate, they can apply for jobs in the media and may express an interest in working as war correspondents.

War correspondents have to be able to quickly and accurately report on developing stories.
War correspondents have to be able to quickly and accurately report on developing stories.

Another way to work as a war correspondent is to start in an entry-level position in a newsroom and work through the ranks. This method can take more time but will provide people with valuable experience as they move through different staff positions. It can also allow a journalist to establish a track record that the company will consider when deciding who to assign as a foreign correspondent or war correspondent. Turning in good work, especially under pressure, can be critical.

Attending journalism school can be a valuable experience for an individual seeking to become a war correspondent.
Attending journalism school can be a valuable experience for an individual seeking to become a war correspondent.

A journalist who wants to become a war correspondent should also consider whether she wants to provide commentary, or simply news. Some correspondents end up in the position by establishing careers as editorial writers and then traveling to conflict zones to see situations first hand. Others may want to stick to reporting the facts, and could focus on developing a reputation for meticulously sourced articles and detailed factual reporting with limited bias.

War correspondents often survey war zones from the air to give first hand accounts.
War correspondents often survey war zones from the air to give first hand accounts.

While on the path to become a war correspondent, it can be useful to join professional organizations of journalists, including war correspondents, to keep up on industry news and job openings. It helps to have excellent interview skills to become a war correspondent, and it can also be beneficial to know one or more languages. Journalists often use the services of a “fixer,” a member of the local community who can assist in-country, but it is also helpful to be able to communicate without an interpreter. Flexibility and reliability are also useful traits.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PracticalAdultInsights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PracticalAdultInsights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

lateefvfx

I am A. Lateef from India. I have completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and Visual Communication from JNA & FA University, Hyderabad. I am interested in photo journalism in war zones.

anon222624

I am an experienced journalist and reporter. I do a lot stories in conflict and war zone areas. I wish to work as fixer in Pakistan and Afghanistan and in tribal area. How can I connect with interested journalists or organizations?

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    • Photographers can be war correspondents.
      By: Rafael Ben-Ari
      Photographers can be war correspondents.
    • War correspondents have to be able to quickly and accurately report on developing stories.
      By: Haider Y. Abdulla
      War correspondents have to be able to quickly and accurately report on developing stories.
    • Attending journalism school can be a valuable experience for an individual seeking to become a war correspondent.
      By: gstockstudio
      Attending journalism school can be a valuable experience for an individual seeking to become a war correspondent.
    • War correspondents often survey war zones from the air to give first hand accounts.
      By: meoita
      War correspondents often survey war zones from the air to give first hand accounts.