Reporting from the Front Line: introduction

I RECENTLY had the opportunity to join the Royal Marines as they spent ten days on training exercises near Caerwent, Wales.

For 24 hours, with nine other trainee journalism students from Cardiff School of Journalism, I was embedded on simulated operations and patrols with marines from 40 Commando.

I had seen journalists reporting from the front line, filming crouched down behind a mound of earth as bullets flew overhead. But this would be the first time I would experience first hand life with the military. The closest I had come to gun fire was courtesy of 007.

In the preceding weeks, a friend and fellow student at JOMEC, had been filled with excitement and anticipation about getting his hands dirty with war reporting for the first time. If there had been an opportunity to head to Kabul or Baghdad, he would have been there. For me, becoming a political journalist, sat in the comfort and grandeur of a Whitehall reception room, taking a briefing from the Prime Minister, seemed a much more sensible option.

But, after 24 hours having gained an insight into what journalism on the front line could be like, I sat on the minibus back to Cardiff re-evaluating my options as a journalist. I thought, perhaps I would prefer to swap a cup of English Breakfast for a wet, and the potential wrath of a spin doctor for the threat of enemy fire.

I also felt for the first time a much closer connection with the military. I spoke to army squaddies younger than me who had done service in Afghanistan, and who recounted to me stories of comrades who had died or been badly injured. Of course, I had heard this before, but now, there was no media glass between. What they said was more a tangible reality.

This is just the introduction to a series of blog entries which I have written about my experience with the marines. In the following posts which I will be posting over the next few days, I have considered some wider issues about the media and the military. Pieced together they are really a monster blog (a blogathon perhaps). But for reading ease I have split them into shorter posts.

Reporting from the Front Line series continues…2nd and 3rd posts

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