Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 6 2009 Contents 14
aving recently returned from
an embedded media tour with
the ADF in Afghanistan, sky
News political editor David
speers admits he is hooked
on time outside the wire.
Speaking at Defence’s Joint Public Affairs Unit
(1JPAU) in Canberra, David offered a journalist’s
perspective to life on operations as well as a broader
look at the media’s relationship with the ADF.
“It’s given me a much better understanding of
the danger involved during even the most simple
tasks,” David said.
“It was a unique insight into how the men and
women of the ADF live and work in high-pressure
environments and the many challenges they face.”
David joins a growing list of media industry
guest speakers to visit the unit, including Four
Corners journalist Chris Masters and the ABC’s
senior cinematographer, Andrew Taylor.
Officer Commanding 1JPAU Major (MAJ)
Brendan Maxwell said the guest speaker schedule
helps to foster and build on existing relations with
senior media industry figures.
“These sessions have been
considered, informative and educational,
generating robust narrative that has enabled
greater insight into the respective demands of
the external media and the ADFs only image-
gathering unit,” MAJ Maxwell said.
With a camera, tripod and laptop in hand,
David would spend all day filming and interviewing
before retiring to his bunk to spend most of the
night editing news stories for release to Sky News
Australia the following day.
“I’d write and voice the script and then edit
my material down into a three of four minute
package,” David said.
With other journalists from major media
organisations joining the tour, David explains the
importance of broadcasting news as it happens,
even if bunked down in a warzone.
“I had two newspaper journalists filing
straight over the phone back to their news desks
so I needed to be ahead of them or my boss would
probably question what it was I was doing over
“I think it’s worth understanding that the
days of going on a trip like that where you film it,
come back, edit and put it to air some weeks later
In his first experience outside the wire, David
joined a patrol from the mentoring liaising team as
well as members from the Afghan National Army
during a house search operation. The experience is
one he will never forget.
“We were able to go around into the houses
and watch how they would interact with the
homeowners, as well as getting a real sense of
what these house searches were actually like,”
“I don’t think people back in Australia had
really seen what these searches involved, and also
the danger involved.
“Before going into the house they’d secure the
perimeter, you have guns out, you have suspicious
people walking around – all of this makes for very
interesting elements of the story.
Professionally, David said it was important to
see first hand what he had often commented on
from the newsroom in Canberra.
“You get the ground-level perspective when
you’re on operations with soldiers,” David said.
“You’re eating the same food, in the same climate,
and as a journalist, it gave me a nice reminder of
the importance of getting out there and seeing and
experiencing stories for yourself.”
David added that the type of footage gathered
by news services like Sky on operations plays an
important role in shaping more accurate public
perception back in Australia.
“Searching houses, talking to locals, that
sounds pretty safe and mundane, but when you see
it in the flesh, you realise it isn’t safe at all – these
guys are actually putting their life at risk by doing
what they do.”
Future invited guests as part of the 1JPAU
schedule include Senior 60 Minutes Producer
Howard Sacre, Representatives from Tolo TV in
Afghanistan, ABC’s Foreign Correspondant host
and presenter Mark Corcoran, SBS’s Chief Political
correspondant Karen Middleton, the Lowy Institute
Program Director Anthony Bubalo and the ABC’s
7.30 Report host Kerry O’Brien.
sky-high reporter gives
Sky News political editor
David Speers on his recent
media tour to Afghanistan.
By Jack Foster
You get the ground-level
perspective when you’re on
operations with soldiers.
You’re eating the same food,
in the same climate, and as
a journalist, it gave me a nice
reminder of the importance
of getting out there and
seeing and experiencing
stories for yourself
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