June 23, 2016

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The Video Surveillance Report 2021

“Bring the Story Back Alive” – Kate Adie’s Guide to Risk and Conflict

A packed keynote theatre welcomed Kate Adie OBE this morning to reveal her no-nonsense strategies for dealing with risk, danger and conflict.


Calling on her ‘concertina of experience’, including 15 years as chief news correspondent at the BBC reporting from war zones and areas of conflict including Kosovo, Bosnia, Kuwait and Iraq, Adie shared tactics for overcoming fear in the face of violence, ultimately, ‘having faith in ordinary folk’.

K Adie

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It’s so much more difficult to shoot someone after you’ve shaken hands


Opening with a video montage of key historical events to which she was witness, Adie revealed how she had never planned to be a journalist or received any formal training – admitting that the worst she had seen was ‘a brawl outside the dockyard in Portsmouth’ when she first started out.

Adie recalled that she planned to be a war correspondent– one of her first assignments was to cover Crufts. You didn’t get to choose where you went or what you covered. You we’re a pair of legs, sent off to deal with the incoming story, which meant you had to be a quick study when it came to unexpected incidents.

Crowds gathered at Protection & Management for Kate Adie

Crowds gathered at Protection & Management for Kate Adie

For Adie, working in the news is all about dealing with the unexpected; how can you prepare, how can you take precautions?

There are no hard and fast rules but you assemble experience and realise what the priorities are as you go along.  The most important thing is retaining a focus on your goal: bringing back the story, staying alive.

Kate Adie’s tips for survival in a conflict zone:

  1. Appeal to human nature.  Humanity is a constant no matter where you go in the world. Make contact, be human.
  2. Admit fear   Fear is a normal instinct and the bravest people Adie has met aren’t embarrassed to feel fear. Acknowledging fear is the best personal thing you can do in the face of danger.
  3. Know your team. Understand how they will react, who will have your back? Who’ll stand alongside you?
  4. Good manners are underrated, no matter where you are. “It’s so much more difficult to shoot someone after you’ve shaken hands”

Adie emphasised the importance of remember what ordinary life is like, as you get used to the war zones. You have to be able to describe difficult conditions and risks and danger but must never get used to it.

For a reminder of Kate Adie’s reporting, watch this archive BBC News video of her reporting from Tiananmen Square in 1989 as Chinese troops fire on protesters.

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