Sky News journalist Alex Crawford was the keynote speaker at JournoFest 2024, where she shared insightful detail into her life as a special correspondent.

JournoFest brings together News Associates and The School of Journalism trainees for a day-long festival of high-profile speakers and special guests from the media industry.

Here, trainee Ayaat Yassin-Kassab shares what she learnt from our keynote speaker…

Having begun her career working on local and regional papers, Alex Crawford believes accuracy is crucial from the very beginning, explaining that avoiding small mistakes reduces the likelihood of making larger ones later.

When asked which story she is most proud of, Crawford redirected the focus onto the stories with the greatest impact. Hers was being the only media crew reporting in Libya in 2011 – their evidence that Qaddafi was shooting unarmed civilians was the first reported.

As a result, the ICC responded, world leaders saw the coverage, a NATO no-fly zone was introduced, and troops were sent in.

She said: “It had a catastrophic effect on foreign relations and geopolitical events, so I can’t really say I’m proud of that, but our reporting had a massive impact on what happened over the next ten years and is still happening now.

“You have to be very clinical in how and what you’re reporting. “Every story you do you should come off thinking: ‘I could have done a better job.’” Crawford, her husband, and their four children have lived in India, Dubai, South Africa, and are now based in Turkey. She addressed the difficulties of balancing a professional and personal life, and how her family have kept her grounded.

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She also stressed the importance of language skills for breaking the ice and connecting to people, highlighting Arabic as among the most useful to learn.

When reporting from warzones, Crawford said, the most challenging thing is not to get killed or injured, at risk of being a burden on your team. There is a required balance of both courage and caution because no journalist is impervious to bombs, bullets, or kidnapping.

She said: “It’s not worth getting killed because if you get killed you don’t have a story.”

You can read all the highlights and top tips from JournoFest 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 here.