The foreign correspondent is frequently the only means of getting an important story told, or of drawing the world's attention to disasters in the making or being covered up. Such an important role is risky in more ways than one. It can expose the correspondent to actual physical danger; but there is also the moral danger of indulging in sensationalism and dehumanizing the sufferer. This danger immediately raises the question of the character and attitude of the correspondent, because the same qualities of mind which in the past separated a Conrad from a Livingstone, or a Gainsborough from the anonymous painter of Francis Williams, are still present and active in the world today. Perhaps this difference can best be put in one phrase: the presence or absence of respect for the human person.
I don't like the definition 'war correspondent'. It is history, not journalism, that has condemned the Middle East to war. I think 'war correspondent' smells a bit, reeks of false romanticism: it has too much of the whiff of Victorian reporters who would view battles from hilltops in the company of ladies, immune to suffering, only occasionally glancing towards the distant pop-pop of cannon fire.
There's very little you could do to prepare to be a correspondent on 'The Daily Show,' because it's not being a journalist, it's not being an actor. It involves elements of both of those things, but they're not required necessarily as job experience. It's helpful if you know how to improvise, but again, not a requirement.
Roaming the world as a foreign correspondent for more than a decade, I was able to observe how a variety of vastly different nations organized themselves economically. The inescapable conclusion was that no politician anywhere on the planet has ever actually created a rupee's worth of prosperity.
If doubtful whether to end with "yours faithfully," or "yours truly," or "yours most truly," &c. (there are at least a dozen varieties, before you reach "yours affectionately"), refer to your correspondent's last letter, and make your winding-up at least as friendly as his: in fact, even if a shade more friendly, it will do no harm!
In the founders of great families, titles or attributes of honor are generally correspondent with the virtues of the person to whom they are applied; but in their descendants they are too often the marks rather of grandeur than of merit. The stamp and denomination still continue, but the intrinsic value is frequently lost.
I speak "with absolute certainty" only so far as my own personal belief is concerned. Those who have not the same warrant for their belief as I have, would be very credulous and foolish to accept it on blind faith. Nor does the writer believe any more than her correspondent and his friends in any "authority" let alone "divine revelation"!
H. P. Blavatsky
My father was a little frightening - a huge man, six foot four - and he looked like God. He was always a visitor, as far as I was concerned, because my parents separated when I was nine. We only became friends when he was old and began to shrink. During the war, he was a BBC war correspondent and did some extraordinary broadcasts.
The great thing about being a print journalist is that you are permitted to duck. Cameramen get killed while the writers are flat on the floor. A war correspondent for the BBC dedicated his memoir to 50 fallen colleagues, and I guarantee you they were all taking pictures. I am only alive because I am such a chicken.
P. J. O'Rourke
The greatest promotion I ever had on a newspaper was when 'The Washington Post' suddenly promoted me from city-side general assignment reporter to Latin American correspondent and sent me off to Cuba. Fidel Castro had just come to power. It was a very exciting assignment, but also very serious.
Some medical beast had revived tar-water in those days as a fine medicine, and Mrs. Joe always kept a supply of it in the cupboard; having a belief in its virtues correspondent to its nastiness. At the best of times, so much of this elixir was administered to me as a choice restorative, that I was conscious of going about, smelling like a new fence.
I think I'm still chewing on my years as a foreign correspondent. I found myself covering catastrophes - war, uprising, famine, refugee crises - and witnessing how people were affected by dire situations. When I find a story from the past, I bring some of those lessons to bear on the narrative.
You ask me how, with so much study, I manage to retene my health. ... Morpheous is my last companion ; without 8 or 9 hours of him yr correspondent is not worth one scavenger's peruke. My practices did at ye first hurt my stomach, but now I eat heartily enou' as y' will see when I come down beside you. [On the value of sleep, and harm of eating poorly while intent on study.]
I was a news reporter for 16 years, seven of them a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. Perhaps the most useful equipment I acquired in that time is a lack of preciousness about the act of writing. A reporter must write. There must be a story. The mot juste unarriving? Tell that to your desk.
One correspondent, who is into psychology, notes that in his experience people who are hoplophobes are nearly always nutty in other ways, too. Hoplophobia [fear of guns], of course, is not simply an attitude but rather an aberration in which the sufferer clings to an idea which he himself knows to be unsound, such as the idea that inanimate instruments have a will of their own or that lawbreakers abide by the law.
I see that I've become a really bad correspondent. It's not that I don't think of you. You come into my thoughts often. But when you do it appears to me that I owe you a particularly grand letter. And so you end in the "warehouse of good intentions": "Can't do it now." "Then put it on hold." This is one's strategy for coping with old age, and with death-because one can't die with so many obligations in storage. Our clever species, so fertile and resourceful in denying its weaknesses.
I see that I've become a really bad correspondent. It's not that I don't think of you. You come into my thoughts often. But when you do it appears to me that I owe you a particularly grand letter. And so you end in the "warehouse of good intentions": "Can't do it now." "Then put it on hold." This is one's strategy for coping with old age, and with death--because one can't die with so many obligations in storage. Our clever species, so fertile and resourceful in denying its weaknesses.
Open the books ... and you will be staggered to see how much American money has been taken from the United States Treasury for the benefit of Russia. Find out what business has been transacted for the State Bank of Soviet Russia, by its correspondent, the Chase Bank of New York [owned by the Rockefellers].
Louis Thomas McFadden
A private should preserve a respectful attitude toward his superiors, and should seldom or never proceed so far as to offer suggestions to his general in the field. If the battle is not being conducted to suit him, it is better for him to resign. By the etiquette of war, it is permitted to none below the rank of newspaper correspondent to dictate to the general in the field.
Like all young reporters - brilliant or hopelessly incompetent - I dreamed of the glamorous life of the foreign correspondent: prowling Vienna in a Burberry trench coat, speaking a dozen languages to dangerous women, narrowly escaping Sardinian bandits - the usual stuff that newspaper dreams are made of.
My four years in Russia end, then, in dramatic fashion: with a textbook Soviet-style expulsion. I am the first western staff correspondent to suffer this fate since the end of the Cold War. I'm stunned. But my expulsion is not, I reflect, a surprise. It's something I have always accepted as a real, if far-fetched, possibility.
Working as a correspondent for 'Business Week,' I felt that I was simply informing people, not empowering them. I saw a parallel problem in the world of education. In too many educational settings, teachers simply 'inform' or 'instruct' learners, rather than providing learners with opportunities to explore, experiment, and express themselves.
So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes. It shall answer the endless inquiry of the intellect, "" What is truth? and of the affections, "" What is good? by yielding itself passive to the educated Will. ... Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions. A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thurber was asked by a correspondent: "Why did you have a comma in the sentence, 'After dinner, the men went into the living-room'?" And his answer was probably one of the loveliest things ever said about punctuation. "This particular comma," Thurber explained, "was Ross's way of giving the men time to push back their chairs and stand up.
As a war correspondent and a mother, I've learned to live in two different realities. It's not always easy to make the transition from a beautiful London park filled with children to a war zone, but it's my choice. I choose to live in peace and witness war- to experience the worst in people but to remember the beauty.
The more Adams thought about the future of his country, the more convinced he became that it rested on education. Before any great things are accomplished, he wrote to a correspondent, a memorable change must be made in the system of education and knowledge must become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher. The education of a nation instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, must become the national care and expense for the formation of the many.
It is evident that the right of acquiring and possessing property, and having it protected, is one of the natural, inherent, and unalienable rights of man. Men have a sense of property: Property is necessary to their subsistence, and correspondent to their natural wants and desires; its security was one of the objects, that induced them to unite in society. No man would become a member of a community, in which he could not enjoy the fruits of his honest labour and industry.
My dad, Bob Blum, used to dash across Grand Central's main terminal catwalk several times daily as a young CBS correspondent, running copy from newsroom to studio and back - because CBS' first broadcasts were from Grand Central Terminal. The pictures on people's television sets used to shake when the trains came in!
Now she understood a few things: that the American academy, which one might have thought the place to defend freedom of speech, had been the seat and soul of abrogating freedom of speech, if the first assault on its freedom can be said to be restricting, or handcuffing speech. The day she heard 'redneck' on NPR, she turned NPR off, not because broadcasters were still using the term, but because she knew one day they would not be. In fact, she had a vision of the quiet moment backstage at a Boston studio when a good, surprised correspondent was let go for saying 'redneck' the last time it would be said.
Rolf Ekeus came round to my apartment one day and showed me the name of the Iraqi diplomat who had visited the little West African country of Niger: a statelet famous only for its production of yellowcake uranium. The name was Wissam Zahawi. He was the brother of my louche gay part-Kurdish friend, the by-now late Mazen. He was also, or had been at the time of his trip to Niger, Saddam Hussein's ambassador to the Vatican. I expressed incomprehension. What was an envoy to the Holy See doing in Niger? Obviously he was not taking a vacation. Rolf then explained two things to me. The first was that Wissam Zahawi had, when Rolf was at the United Nations, been one of Saddam Hussein's chief envoys for discussions on nuclear matters (this at a time when the Iraqis had functioning reactors). The second was that, during the period of sanctions that followed the Kuwait war, no Western European country had full diplomatic relations with Baghdad. TheVatican was the sole exception, so it was sent a very senior Iraqi envoy to act as a listening post. And this man, a specialist in nuclear matters, had made a discreet side trip to Niger. This was to suggest exactly what most right-thinking people were convinced was not the case: namely that British intelligence was on to something when it said that Saddam had not ceased seeking nuclear materials in Africa. I published a few columns on this, drawing at one point an angry email from Ambassador Zahawi that very satisfyingly blustered and bluffed on what he'd really been up to. I also received-this is what sometimes makes journalism worthwhile-a letter from a BBC correspondent named Gordon Correa who had been writing a book about A.Q. Khan. This was the Pakistani proprietor of the nuclear black market that had supplied fissile material to Libya, North Korea, very probably to Syria, and was open for business with any member of the 'rogue states' club. (Saddam's people, we already knew for sure, had been meeting North Korean missile salesmen in Damascus until just before the invasion, when Kim Jong Il's mercenary bargainers took fright and went home.) It turned out, said the highly interested Mr. Correa, that his man Khan had also been in Niger, and at about the same time that Zahawi had. The likelihood of the senior Iraqi diplomat in Europe and the senior Pakistani nuclear black-marketeer both choosing an off-season holiday in chic little uranium-rich Niger... well, you have to admit that it makes an affecting picture. But you must be ready to credit something as ridiculous as that if your touching belief is that Saddam Hussein was already 'contained, ' and that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair were acting on panic reports, fabricated in turn by self-interested provocateurs.
The phone rang. It was a familiar voice. It was Alan Greenspan. Paul O'Neill had tried to stay in touch with people who had served under Gerald Ford, and he'd been reasonably conscientious about it. Alan Greenspan was the exception. In his case, the effort was constant and purposeful. When Greenspan was the chairman of Ford's Council of Economic Advisers, and O'Neill was number two at OMB, they had become a kind of team. Never social so much. They never talked about families or outside interests. It was all about ideas: Medicare financing or block grants - a concept that O'Neill basically invented to balance federal power and local autonomy - or what was really happening in the economy. It became clear that they thought well together. President Ford used to have them talk about various issues while he listened. After a while, each knew how the other's mind worked, the way married couples do. In the past fifteen years, they'd made a point of meeting every few months. It could be in New York, or Washington, or Pittsburgh. They talked about everything, just as always. Greenspan, O'Neill told a friend, "doesn't have many people who don't want something from him, who will talk straight to him. So that's what we do together - straight talk." O'Neill felt some straight talk coming in. "Paul, I'll be blunt. We really need you down here, " Greenspan said. "There is a real chance to make lasting changes. We could be a team at the key moment, to do the things we've always talked about." The jocular tone was gone. This was a serious discussion. They digressed into some things they'd "always talked about, " especially reforming Medicare and Social Security. For Paul and Alan, the possibility of such bold reinventions bordered on fantasy, but fantasy made real. "We have an extraordinary opportunity, " Alan said. Paul noticed that he seemed oddly anxious. "Paul, your presence will be an enormous asset in the creation of sensible policy." Sensible policy. This was akin to prayer from Greenspan. O'Neill, not expecting such conviction from his old friend, said little. After a while, he just thanked Alan. He said he always respected his counsel. He said he was thinking hard about it, and he'd call as soon as he decided what to do. The receiver returned to its cradle. He thought about Greenspan. They were young men together in the capital. Alan stayed, became the most noteworthy Federal Reserve Bank chairman in modern history and, arguably the most powerful public official of the past two decades. O'Neill left, led a corporate army, made a fortune, and learned lessons - about how to think and act, about the importance of outcomes - that you can't ever learn in a government. But, he supposed, he'd missed some things. There were always trade-offs. Talking to Alan reminded him of that. Alan and his wife, Andrea Mitchell, White House correspondent for NBC news, lived a fine life. They weren't wealthy like Paul and Nancy. But Alan led a life of highest purpose, a life guided by inquiry. Paul O'Neill picked up the telephone receiver, punched the keypad. "It's me, " he said, always his opening. He started going into the details of his trip to New York from Washington, but he's not much of a phone talker - Nancy knew that - and the small talk trailed off. "I think I'm going to have to do this." She was quiet. "You know what I think, " she said. She knew him too well, maybe. How bullheaded he can be, once he decides what's right. How he had loved these last few years as a sovereign, his own man. How badly he was suited to politics, as it was being played. And then there was that other problem: she'd almost always been right about what was best for him. "Whatever, Paul. I'm behind you. If you don't do this, I guess you'll always regret it." But it was clearly about what he wanted, what he needed. Paul thanked her. Though somehow a thank-you didn't seem appropriate. And then he realized she was crying.