Sky News reporter Alex Crawford on her James Cameron gong which was awarded to her last night by the City University London in recognition of her significant contribution to reporting on the Middle East and, in particular, Libya.
“James Cameron epitomises everything I aspire to be – a journalist of incredible integrity, grit and authority. Frankly, to be mentioned in the same breath as him is both astonishing to me and a massive honour.
“I look at all he achieved – as a war correspondent, newspaper columnist, playwright, documentary-maker, author, historian – and I think, blimey, I’ve been positively sloth-like. I need to get a move on! How can you not be fired up by a journalist who says: ‘It was long ago in my life, as a simple UK reporter, that I decided the facts must never get in the way of the truth.’
“This year has been an astonishing roller-coaster for all of us out there working in foreign news. Getting at the truth has been incredibly dangerous and far too many of us have been killed or injured, attacked and abused. And yet I think I can speak for the bulk of us when I say it has also been enormously fulfilling. Personally, I feel incredibly lucky. Myself and my crew have used up thirteen of our nine lives. We have been shot at, bombed, arrested, interrogated, tear-gassed, been sprayed with water-cannon and much more besides – those were the quiet days ! But what a privilege it has been to be there.
“We have been sheltered, looked after, and cared for – by strangers. And those being persecuted by their own Governments have risked their lives and put themselves in incredible danger – to protect us. The dangers we have faced are balanced out by the knowledge that foreign journalists have been vital in getting the truth out despite the regimes hell-bent on stopping us. If any of us have embodied the spirit of James Cameron in trying to prick the world’s conscience, rattle the cages of the world’s dictators and get close to the truth – then it has all been worth it.
“Thank you for this recognition. It means a lot – particularly as I’ve spent the year trying to convince my four children and husband that my absence from birthdays, school plays and parent-teacher meetings has been necessary because I firmly believe it’s important to cover these stories – and I want to be the one to report on them!”
The award is given in memory of prominent British journalist James Cameron, who passed away in 1985. It includes a prize of £1,000 awarded by the James Cameron Memorial Trust and is given before the annual James Cameron Memorial Lecture held at City.
Alex Crawford is based in South Africa, reporting from across the continent, but is also deployed around the world.
Formerly based in Sky’s Dubai bureau, Alex has reported on the Gulf and the Middle East, most recently covering the August uprisings in Libya, where Alex and her team were the first journalists into Tripoli, providing riveting coverage of the rebel advance. In March Alex and her crew where the only journalists to get inside the besieged town of Zawiya when it was being attacked by pro-Gaddafi forces.
Following her reports on the Mumbai terror attacks from outside the Taj Hotel in November 2008, coming under fire live on air, Sky News was shortlisted for a BAFTA and won the coveted international Golden Nymph Award for News Coverage.