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Les Whittington – Don’t get lost in the Weeds

The Challenge: It goes without saying that reporting from abroad is one of the greatest opportunities and challenges a journalist can have. The experience is like no other and, if tackled with an open mind, creativity and a well-honed sense of what’s needed by one’s outlet and one’s readers/viewers/listeners, can be rewarding and endlessly enjoyable. […]

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Michelle Shephard – Finding a Fixer

Every country is unique, every story different. Sometimes you have weeks to prepare, sometimes just a couple hours before your flight. Over the years I’ve learned a few lessons – some the hard way. Below are just general guidelines. In addition to these, never discount that gut feeling. Whether you’ve got years of experience or […]

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Jim Rankin – Heading to the Airport without a Toothbrush, Not

Tunisia was basking in the very warm afterglow of the ouster of a dictator president and now Egypt was looking like it might manage to do the same. It was a Friday and I was in the Toronto Star newsroom, thinking of the menu for the Super Bowl party I was to host on Sunday. […]

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David Bruser – Type ‘Yes’ and hit send.

Fear of failure is a hell of clarifier when a senior editor emails you at 5:11 a.m. (Portugal time; I was in the Lisbon airport, moments from boarding a plane home after a peaceful, sun-soaked vacation), saying “We’re thinking of sending someone to Tripoli. Would you go?” Before I could ask myself any questions – […]

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D’Arcy Doran – How Do I Not Get Killed

 “Always act like you know where you’re going, even when you don’t,” the Nigerian travel agent offered unsolicited, after handing me my ticket for Lagos. I probably looked like an easy mark. After a year at the Toronto Star and 18 months at various British newspapers, I decided in early 2001 to take the plunge […]

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Sandro Contenta – Coming Out In One Piece

Few events in our business are as disturbing as a reporter killed in a war zone. Equally upsetting, at least in my mind, are the murmurs that inevitably follow an appropriate period of respect, which in one way or another blame the journalist – he shouldn’t have been where he was, she took too many […]

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Advice from Toronto Star journalists

So, you’ve been handed a dream trip or assignment into a potentially dangerous zone. What to do? Here are some basics for a trip of any sort. Advice from Toronto Star journalists Jim Rankin, Michelle Shephard, Mitch Potter, Sandro Contenta and Rick Madonik. This was written for their colleagues and has been edited for a wider audience. […]

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Bill Schiller – Reporting in China

  FIRST, THE FUNDAMENTALS: Bring what Jim had: endless curiosity, bedrock self-belief, a gift for logistics in complicated circumstances, boundless energy and a friendly and generous nature – the ability to make friends. PRACTICAL ADVICE: China is the most challenging of the four bureaux I’ve had – more challenging than South Africa during the dark […]

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Oakland Ross: Ideas for correspondents

From Toronto Sun reporter David Kendall: When in Peru, write about llamas. On the other hand: when in Mexico, write about ice hockey. Travel guidebooks are a great place to look for story ideas, especially features. Think of states of awareness as being a range of colours, with white as a sort of semi-conscious daze […]

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