Last week, our grade 8 and 10 students had the privilege of meeting Alex Crawford, a British journalist who currently works as a Special Correspondent for Sky News based in Turkey. Alex has recently moved to Istanbul from South Africa with her family to allow fast accessibility to any part of the world. Now being a member of our community, Alex accepted our invitation to share some of her amazing experiences with our Secondary students during their English and Humanities class. This was especially timely as they are about to embark on a unit on journalism. She gave useful tips about how to do a successful interview and how to get the true information from the interviewee especially when under difficult and risky conditions.
Alex, as a real risk taker, has been to many places where it required a lot of courage to be and interviewed people who could not easily be reached and considered not very safe to talk to. She has been to several Middle-Eastern countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya as a war reporter and won several awards. She met terror organization members in Afghanistan, she was in Africa during the Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands of people, she had a ride on a refugee boat with the Syrian refugees trying to cross the sea from Izmir to Greece.
During her presentation, she talked about the importance of physically ‘being on the ground’ and how it actually helps to get the truth and report it, especially as she feels journalism is under attack from various political entities. She advised students to ask questions of themselves all the time when they are watching the news such as ‘is this reflecting the truth or could it be biased?’, ‘what message is this news trying to get across?’. She emphasized ‘critical thinking’ when watching/reading the news in order to understand what is actually happening.
Our students, currently working on their interview projects and trying to learn interviewing skills in their class, have benefited from hearing the key points that Alex shared in order to do a good interview. She said that it is ‘a must’ to do some research about the interviewee in advance and prepare the questions accordingly. She says it is also important that how you ask your questions and in what manner. Because as she has experienced many times, the conditions might not allow you direct your questions as you planned. Showing genuine interest, listening what they are saying carefully and trying to get the interesting bits out of the conversation is very important.
In order for students to be able to get a real feeling of how hard and terrifying the conditions were and can be while reporting, she brought some pieces of the remains from the war zones, like a tear gas can, a shrapnel piece, a bullet-proof jacket and the burka she wore that very often when she was in Afghanistan. Students did have a chance to hold them and tried to understand how it could feel being in that kind of environment.
Alex says that she feels privileged to be able to get into those places that are very hard to get into and bringing back valuable information. Being able to spread the truth and trying to change the bad things that are happening for the good, motivate her continue doing her job.
IICS students and teachers learned so much from this inspirational talk by Alex, we appreciate her giving up her time to travel to Marmara campus to share her expertise and her passion for the truth.