Taking the flak – war correspondent visits CBJ

Leturer2War correspondent Chris Stephen brought his well-used flak jacket and helmet in to show students – and let them try them on for size.

Chris, who works for the Guardian/Observer and Economist in Tripoli, has reported from warzones and revolutions from Bosnia to Libya for 25 years.

In a Q and A with his old colleague, former foreign correspondent, now CBJ lecturer Catherine Adams, he fielded questions from around a hundred  Level 2 Global Journalism students in Maudslay.

“There’s nothing like the adrenaline and excitement of a war zone,” said Chris, who’s been shot at, shelled and mortared more times than he cares to remember. “But war can also be very funny!” he told CBJ’s  future hacks, recounting a story where he once met the sniper who had tried to kill him the day before.  That might not seem funny to you, but..
As fighting intensified one day between Croats and Muslims during the break up of Yugoslavia, Chris walked away from the front line drinking a can of beer. Bullets went whistling past his face. He caught sight of a young Muslim sniper taking shots at him and ran for cover.  The next day he crossed the line to the other side, to take his laundry to a Muslim lady he knew. A young man was in the kitchen drinking coffee.  “That’s my son. He’s a sniper but it’s his day off,” she explained. The youth raised his cup to Chris, to apologise for mistaking him for a Croat,  saying,  “Here’s to me being a bad shot!”

Author of “Judgement Day: The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic”, Chris’s advice for students who asked whether he recommended war reporting as a career :

“Do whatever you want to do. If you’re passionate about something, the money will follow”

Chris is happy for students to contact him if they want to ask any more questions about war reporting. You can email him on chrisstephen2005@yahoo.co.uk or follow him on Twitter Chris Stephen@reportingLibya

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