5 Tips for Journalists Reporting Internationally

Investigative journalist Julie Noon shares her top 5 tips for journalists reporting internationally.

By Julie Noon

Julie Noon filming in Central African Republic.

Embarking on your first international reporting trip can be a daunting task. With risk assessments to fill out, language barriers to overcome and unfamiliar territory to navigate, there is often a whole host of new challenges you are faced with before, during and after every trip.

But with some good preparation and an open mind, these challenges need not deter you from reporting on stories from around the world.

We spoke to acclaimed investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker, Julie Noon to give you her top 5 tips for journalists reporting internationally.

1.  Remain curious and never assume to completely know or understand a story or situation.

Both professionally as a journalist and in a story context, you will always be learning.  So seek the untold elements, the revelatory surprises and the truth that captures imagination and hearts.  To do that, you must know and understand your audience; thus how to effectively communicate and engage them with your storytelling skills.

2.  Approach a risk assessment as your friend; your editorial scrutiny and tool to help keep you safe and enable bold creativity and practical flexibility in the field.

Physical, digital and psychological security are inextricably linked – understand how they weave together, as you consider all possible ‘what if…?’ scenarios and ramifications of gathering and crafting your story before, during and after an assignment.

3. Trust your instincts and expect the unexpected.

You’re working with humans, nothing is really predictable!  Consider all situations carefully and intelligently with the evidence you have, but also listen to your guts and observe people and their body language. Your instincts will serve you well in helping to judge when something is or isn’t right editorially, in your selection of crew and contributors and when assessing or responding to security threats, particularly when you are working in countries, languages and cultures that are unfamiliar.

Julie Noon filming in Ethiopia.

4.  Perception is key.

How are you being perceived and how are you perceiving others and situations?  Even if you are working in your home country, asking questions and using professional equipment can change how others perceive and treat you.   Equally, never judge a book by it’s cover – as you would not wish to be judged, don’t do it to others!  Often characters who are quiet, observant and thoughtful have a greater depth of story to tell in a more intelligent, engaging and balanced manner.

5.  Journalistic integrity and Duty of Care are your moral and professional obligations.

Telling people’s stories is a privilege and must be done with respect, integrity, professionalism and compassion.  As a freelancer, you are judged not just for the content you deliver, but how you conduct yourself and gather your material will also be scrutinised; that must be responsibly and appropriately for the story, location or situation.  Never be tempted to undermine any journalistic principles or bring the profession into disrepute, no matter how good the potential material (especially when you may be tired, hungry and stressed!).

5b.  Love what you do; it’s the best job in the world!

The Essential Guide to International Reporting workshop!

If you are interested in learning more about international reporting, Julie Noon will be running One World Media’s Essential Guide to International Reporting workshop in March 2020. Find out more and book your tickets here: