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A war correspondent is a journalist who covers stories firsthand from a war zone. In the 19th century they were also called Special Correspondents.


Their jobs require war correspondents to deliberately go to the most conflict-ridden parts of the world. Once there they attempt to get close enough to the action to provide written accounts, photos, or film footage. Thus, being a war correspondent is often considered the most dangerous form of journalism. On the other hand, war coverage is also one of the most successful branches of journalism. Newspaper sales increase greatly in wartime and television news ratings go up. News organizations have sometimes been accused of militarism because of the advantages they gather from conflict. William Randolph Hearst is often said to have encouraged the Spanish-American War for this reason. (See Yellow journalism)

Only some conflicts receive extensive worldwide coverage, however. Among recent wars, the Kosovo War received a great deal of coverage, as did the Persian Gulf War. Many third-world wars, however, tend to receive less substantial coverage because corporate media are often less interested, the lack of infrastructure makes reporting more difficult and expensive, and the conflicts are also far more dangerous for war correspondents.


Battle council on the De Zeven Provinciën by Willem van de Velde the Elder. The prelude to the Four Days Battle in 1666.

Written war correspondents have existed as long as journalism. Before modern journalism it was more common for longer histories to be written at the end of a conflict. The first known of these is Herodotus's account of the Persian Wars, however he did not himself participate in the events. Thucydides, who some years later wrote a history of the Peloponnesian Wars was an observer to the events he described.

The first modern war correspondent is said to be Dutch painter Willem van de Velde, who in 1653 took to sea in a small boat to observe a naval battle between the Dutch and the English, of which he made many sketches on the spot, which he later developed into one big drawing that he added to a report he wrote to the States General. A further modernization came with the development of newspapers and magazines . One of the earliest war correspondents was Henry Crabb Robinson, who covered Napoleon's campaigns in Spain and Germany for The Times of London.

Crimean War

William Howard Russell, who covered the Crimean War, also for The Times, is often described as the first modern war correspondent. The stories from this era, which were almost as lengthy and analytical as early books on war, took numerous weeks from being written to being published.

Third Italian War of Independence

Another renowned journalist, Ferdinando Petruccelli della Gattina, Italian correspondent of European newspapers such as La Presse, Journal des débats, Indépendance Belge and The Daily News, was known for his extremely gory style in his articles but involving at the same time. Jules Claretie, critic of Le Figaro, was amazed about his correspondence of the Battle of Custoza, during the Third Italian War of Independence: «Nothing could be more fantastic and cruelly true than this tableau of agony. Reportage has never given a superior artwork».[1]

Russo-Japanese War

Western military attachés and war correspondents with the Japanese forces after the Battle of Shaho in 1904.

It was not until the telegraph was developed that reports could be sent on a daily basis and events could be reported as they occurred that the short mainly descriptive stories of today became common. Press coverage of the Russo-Japanese War was affected by restrictions on the movement of reporters and strict censorship. In all military conflicts which followed this 1904-1905 war, close attention to more managed reporting was considered essential.[2]

First World War

The First World War was characterized by rigid censorship. British Lord Kitchener hated reporters, and so reporters were banned from the Front at the start of the War. But reporters such as Basil Clarke and Philip Gibbs lived as fugitives near the Front, sending back their reports. The Government eventually allowed some accredited reporters in April 1915, and this continued until the end of the War. This meant, though, that the Government was able to control what they saw.

French authorities were equally opposed to war journalism, but less competent (criticisms of the French high command were leaked to the press during the Battle of Verdun in 1916). By far the most rigid and authoritarian regime was imposed by the United States, though General John J. Pershing allowed embedded reporters (Floyd Gibbons was severely wounded at Belleau Wood in 1918). The discourse in mediated conflicts is influenced by its public character. By forwarding information and arguments to the media, conflict parties attempt to gain support from their constituencies and persuade their opponents.[3] The continued progress of technology has allowed live coverage of events via satellite up-links. The rise of twenty-four hour news channels has led to a heightened demand for coverage.

Early film and television news rarely had war correspondents. Rather they would simply collect footage provided by other sources, often the government, and the news anchor would then add narration. This footage was often staged as cameras were large and bulky until the introduction of small, portable motion picture cameras during WWII. The situation changed dramatically with the Vietnam War when networks from around the world sent cameramen with portable cameras and correspondents. This proved damaging to the United States as the full brutality of war became a daily feature on the nightly news.

Notable war correspondents

19th century

20th century

United States World War II correspondents

Some of them became authors of fiction drawing on their war experiences, including Davis, Crane and Hemingway.

  • Kate Adie (born 1945); covered the Gulf War, Yugoslav Wars, Rwandan Genocide and the Sierra Leone Civil War.
  • Peter Arnett (born 1934); covered the Vietnam War, 1991 Gulf War, the 2001 Invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 Iraq War.
  • Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett (1881–1931); covered the Russo-Japanese War and World War I.
  • Ralph Barnes (1899–1940); the first war correspondent killed during World War II
  • Martin Bell (born 1938); covered the Vietnam War, Biafra War, The Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Angolan Civil War and the Bosnian War.
  • Michael Birch (1944 - 1968); killed in Saigon during Tet while covering the Vietnam War.
  • Bill Boss (1917–2007) Canadian war correspondent, for the Canadian Press, who covered World War II.
  • Alexandra Boulat
  • Margaret Bourke-White (1904–1971); first female war correspondent, photographed Buchenwald concentration camp
  • Mary Marvin Breckinridge (1905–2002); covered World War II.
  • Wilfred Burchett (1911–1983); covered the Pacific War, Korean War and Vietnam War. He was known for covering news from the "other side" of the battlefield, and was often criticised for his communist sympathising.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, WWII—covered the attack on Pearl Harbor. Became one of the oldest war correspondents ever.
  • Larry Burrows (1927 - 1971) British photo journalist famous for his work in the Vietnam War. Killed in a helicopter crash over Laos with 3 colleagues.
  • Robert Capa (1913–1954); covered the Spanish Civil War, Second Sino-Japanese War, the European Theatre of World War II and the First Indochina War (where he was killed by a landmine).
  • Peter Cave (born 1952); covered the Gulf War, Yugoslav Wars, the Coconut War in the New Hebrides, Iraq War, Tiananmen Square, Lebanon, Egypt and Libya
  • Blaise Cendrars
  • Patrick Chauvel
  • Dickey Chapelle (1918–1965); covered the Pacific War, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the Vietnam War (where she was killed by a landmine). She was the first female US war correspondent to be killed in action.
  • Greg Clarke (1892–1977) Canadian war correspondent who covered World War I and II.
  • Basil Clarke (1879–1947); covered the fighting on the Western Front during WWI, living as a fugitive in Dunkirk during the early part of the War and then as an accredited reporter at the Battle of the Somme in late 1916. he also covered the Eastern Front and the Easter Rising and later became the UK's first public relations officer.
  • Alexander Clifford, covered World War II
  • Marie Colvin, considered one of the most influential correspondents of past 20 years, killed in Homs, Syria.
  • Anderson Cooper (1967), a renowned War correspondent serving CNN; covered Somalia, Bosnia, and Rwanda.
  • Burton Crane (1901–1963); covered occupied Japan after World War II and the Korean War for the New York Times.
  • Walter Cronkite (1916–2009); covered the European Theater during World War II for United Press.
  • Neil Davis - Australian combat cameraman covered the Vietnam War, Cambodia and Laos and subsequently conflicts in Africa. He was killed in 1985 in Thailand.
  • Albert K. Dawson (1885–1967); American photographer and film correspondent with the German, Austrian and Bulgarian army during the First World War
  • Luc Delahaye
  • Richard Dimbleby (1913–1965); covered World War II
  • Frank Palmos (1940-) Vietnam War 1965-1968, Indonesian Civil War 1965-66.
  • David Douglas Duncan
  • Kurt Eggers (-1943) World War II SS correspondent, editor of the SS magazine Das Schwarze Korps, was killed while reporting on the Wiking's battles near Kharkov. The German SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers was named in his honor.
  • Gloria Emerson (1929–2004); covered the Vietnam War.
  • Horst Faas (1933 - 2012) Associated Press Saigon Photographer, 2 Pulitzer Prices, co author "Lost Over Laos", "Requiem", "Henri Huet". Covered the Congo War, Algeria, Vietnam.
  • Bernard B. Fall (1926–1967); covered the First Indochina War and the Vietnam War (where he was killed by a landmine).
  • Sylvana Foa, correspondent in Vietnam and Cambodia
  • J.C. Furnas; covered World War II.
  • Joseph L. Galloway (born November 13, 1941), UPI correspondent in Vietnam and co-author of We Were Soldiers Once...and Young.
  • Martha Gellhorn (1908–1998); covered the Spanish Civil War, World War II, Vietnam War, the Six-Day War and even the U.S. invasion of Panama.
  • Chas Gerretsen (born 1943); covered the war in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and received the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award for his coverage of the 1973 Coup d'État in Chile.
  • Georgie Anne Geyer (born 1935); covered the Guatemalan Civil War and the Algerian Civil War.
  • Philip Gibbs; Official war Correspondent for Britain during the First World War.
  • Nakayama Gishu[5]
  • Robert Goralski; NBC News correspondent. Covered the Vietnam War; provided witness testimony in the My Lai massacre trials.
  • Al Gore (born 1948); covered the Vietnam War.
  • Henry Tilton Gorrell (1911–1958); United Press correspondent. Covered the Spanish Civil War and World War II. Author of "Soldier of the Press, Covering the Front in Europe and North Africa, 1936-1943" published by the University of Missouri Press, 2009.[6]
  • Cork Graham (born 1964); imprisoned in Vietnam for illegally entering the country while looking for treasure buried by Captain Kidd.
  • Louis Grondijs (1878–1961); covered Russo-Japanese War, World War I, the Russian Civil War, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the Spanish Civil War.
  • Philip Jones Griffiths(1936 - 2008) British photojournalist who covered the Vietnam War.
  • Vassili Grossman
  • Corra Harris early women correspondent in World War I.
  • David Halberstam (1934 - 2007). American journalist, New York Times. Covered the Vietnam War. David died in a car crash 2007 in California.
  • Macdonald Hastings
  • Max Hastings
  • Ron Haviv
  • Chris Hedges
  • Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961); covered the Spanish Civil War and World War II.
  • Michael Herr (1940) American Journalist in the Vietnam War. Book: Dispatches. Script: Full Metal Jacket. Voice over text in Apocalypse Now.
  • Marguerite Higgins; paved the way for female war correspondents.
  • Johannes-Matthias Hönscheid; covered World War II, only correspondent to receive the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
  • Clare Hollingworth covered World War II, Algerian War, Vietnam War
  • Peggy Hull (1889–1967) covered World War I and World War II
  • Joseph Kessel
  • Helen Kirkpatrick (1909–1997) covered World War II including The Blitz, Normandy Invasion and Liberation of France.
  • Gary Knight (1964) British photojournalist. Covered conflicts in: Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan war.
  • Catherine Leroy (1945 - 2006) French photographer, covered the Vietnam War for Life Magazine.
  • Jacques Leslie, Cambodian–Vietnamese War correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, 1972–1973, 1975. Leslie was the first American journalist to enter and return from Viet Cong (National Liberation Front) territory in South Vietnam, in January 1973.[7]
  • Larry LeSueur, CBS radio correspondent, reported from rooftops during World War II London blitzes, went ashore in the first waves of the D-Day invasion, and broadcast to America the Allied liberation of Paris.
  • George Lewis (NBC News), covered Vietnam War 1970-1973
  • Jack London
  • Jim G. Lucas, Scripps-Howard Newspapers, reported human interest stories from the front lines in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
  • Alexander Gault MacGowan, (1894–1970), correspondent for The Sun (New York), reported from the front lines in World War II.
  • Anne O'Hare McCormick
  • Curzio Malaparte
  • Don McCullin British photographer. Covered conflicts in Northern Ireland, Vietnam, Biafra
  • Steve McCurry (1950) American photographer. Covered Cambodian Civil War, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Gulf War. Member of Magnum Photos.
  • Waldemar Milewicz
  • Alan Moorehead, covered World War II
  • Christopher Morris
  • Ralph Morse, (born 1917) covered World War II
  • Joseph Morton (born in 1911 or 1913, died in 1945); Associated Press (AP) war correspondent, the first American correspondent to be executed by the enemy during World War II.
  • Edward R. Murrow (1908–1965) Covered the Blitz in London and the European Theater during World War II.
  • James Nachtwey (1948) American photographer. Covered Northern Ireland, South Africa, Iraq, Sudan, Indonesia, India, Rwanda, Chechnya, Pakistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Romania, Afghanistan, Israel.
  • George Sessions Perry (1910–1956) Covered WWII for Harper's Weekly and Saturday Evening Post. He accompanied troops on the invasions of Italy and France. Said after the war that his war experiences "de-fictionalized" him for life, and he never wrote fiction again.
  • Roy Pinney (1911–2010) covered World War II and was present at the Normandy landing on D-Day for the Normandy Invasion. He also covered the Yom Kippur War in the Gaza Strip and conflicts in Afghanistan, the Philippines, South Africa and Colombia.
  • Anna Politkovskaya
  • Jessie Pope was a pro war journalist and poet during the first world war.
  • John Pilger
  • Ernie Pyle, Scripps-Howard Newspapers, reported human interest stories from the front lines in World War II, Pulitzer Prize, 1944
  • Dan Rather
  • John Reed (1887–1920); covered the Mexican Revolution, the First World War, and the Russian Revolution, author of Ten Days that Shook the World
  • John Rich (1917); American journalist. Covered WW2, Korea and Vietnam War for NBC.
  • Derek Round (1935 - 2012) Covered the Vietnam War.
  • Joe Sacco comics artist who covered the Gulf War and Bosnian War
  • Morley Safer
  • Sydney Schanberg, his experiences in Cambodia during the Vietnam War are dramatized in The Killing Fields
  • Peter Scholl-Latour (1922) German journalist who covered conflicts in Africa and Asia, Algeria, Vietnam, Angola, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Cambodia a. m. o. Author of 30 books.
  • Kurt Schork
  • Sigrid Schultz
  • Robert Sherrod, World War II, Pacific theatre, Guadacanal and Tarawa/Saipan
  • William L. Shirer
  • Vaughan Smith (1963) British cameraman, covered Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosova, Gulf War.
  • John Steinbeck
  • Karsten Thielker (1966); German photojournalist. Covered Rwanda Genocide, Kosovo. 1995 Pulitzer Prize.
  • Richard Tregaskis, author of Guadalcanal Diary, dramatized in movie of same name.
  • Aernout van Lynden
  • Trevor Watson (born 1953, Sydney, Australia) covered the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Cambodia, military rebellion in Fiji, Tiananmen Square
  • Kate Webb (1943 - 2007); Australian photographer, covered the Vietnam and Cambodia War, East Timor war. Later Gulf War, Indonesia, Afghanistan.
  • Osmar White
  • Eric Lloyd Williams
  • Rod Williams, Hall of Fame broadcaster, covered Vietnam War[8]
  • Chester Wilmot
  • Paul Wood, BBC defense correspondent in the Middle East covering the Arab World since 2003.
  • Simon Dring, British Foreign Correspondent since the 1960s for Reuters, London Daily Telegraph & BBC TV News and others, covered wars/revolutions in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Biafra, Cyprus, Angola, Eritrea, India-Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Bosnia, Middle East and many more

21st century

  • Martin Adler (1958 - 2006) Swedish video journalist, killed in Mogadishu, Somalia. Covered the Gulf War, Liberia, Ruanda, Sierra Leone.
  • Christiane Amanpour covered the Gulf War and the Bosnian War
  • Mile Cărpenişan (born August 23, 1975 – died March 22, 2010) covered the Iraq war and Kosovo war
  • Joseph R. Chenelly covered the War in Afghanistan (2001-present) and the Iraq War.
  • Marie Colvin (1956 - 2012) American UPI after Sunday Times journalist. Covering the conflict in Syria, Marie was killed in Homs. Covered conflicts in Sierra Leone, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Libya
  • Dan Eldon (1970 - 1993) British photojournalist. Killed in Mogadishu - Somalia by angry mob. Covered Somalia conflict.
  • Richard Engel (1973), American who covered the Iraq War, the 2006 Lebanon War and the Syrian civil war (during which he was kidnapped but subsequently rescued)
  • Dexter Filkins covered the Iraq War
  • Robert Fisk (1946), British journalist, covered Northern Ireland conflict, Algerian Civil War, Beirut, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Lebanese Civil War, Iranian Revolution, Iran–Iraq War, the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Kosovo War and the 2003 Iraq War.
  • Aziz Ullah Haidari (1968-November 19, 2001); covered the Afghanistan war,
  • Michael Hastings (1980-2013) covered the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War
  • Tim Hetherington (1970 - 2011) British Photographer and documentary filmmaker, covered Afghanistan, Liberia and was killed in Libya.
  • Chris Hondros (1970 - 2011) American photographer, covered conflicts in Liberia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Kosovo and was killed in Misrata, Libya 2011.
  • Gilles Jacquier (1968 - 2012) French cameraman for France 2 Television. He was the first reporter killed in Syrian civil war.
  • Wojciech Jagielski
  • Ryszard Kapuściński
  • Joseph Kessel
  • Rick Leventhal (born 1960) covered the wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya
  • Terry Lloyd (1952 – 2003), British television journalist, covered the Middle East. He was killed by U.S. troops while covering the 2003 invasion of Iraq for ITN.
  • Anthony Loyd (1966) covered Bosnia and Chechnya
  • Karen Maron
  • Kenji Nagai (1957-2007) Japanese photographer. Covered Afghanistan War. Kenji was killed in Yangon, Burma.
  • Remy Ourdan
  • Robert Young Pelton, best known for his 1000+ page guide to warzones and survival, The World's Most Dangerous Places.
  • Arturo Pérez-Reverte, worked for Pueblo newspaper and Spanish TVE. Covered the Bosnian War among others
  • Antonia Rados (1953) Austrian TV correspondent for ORF, WDR, ZDF, RTL. Covered conflicts in the Gulf War, Kosovo
  • Nir Rosen; covered the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan (2001-present)
  • Giuliana Sgrena
  • John Simpson
  • Kevin Sites
  • Daniel Wakefield Smith
  • Michael Ware (born 1969); ongoing coverage of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Reporting from the perspectives of all combatant groups.
  • Olivier Weber covered the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan (2001-present) and a dozen other conflicts.
  • Mika Yamamoto (1967 - 2012) Japanese photographer and tv journalist. Killed 20.08.2012 in Aleppo, while covering the civil war in Syria.
  • Michael Yon (born 1964); former Green Beret, turned journalist and author. Embedded with American, British and Lithuanian combat units in Iraq War and Afghanistan War.

Books by war correspondents

  • Witnesses To War: The History Of Australian Conflict Reporting, by Anderson And Trembath, Fay Anderson, Richard Trembath[9]
  • The Secret Life of War by Peter Beaumont
  • Towers of Stone: The Battle of Wills in Chechnya by Wojciech Jagielski
  • The Night Wanderers by Wojciech Jagielski
  • "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" by Chris Hedges
  • Anyone Here Been Raped and Speaks English by Edward Behr
  • "Danger Close" by Michael Yon
  • The Face of War by Martha Gellhorn
  • "Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America's Wars in the Muslim World" by Nir Rosen
  • Dispatches by Michael Herr
  • The Soccer War by Ryszard Kapuściński
  • "A Small Corner of Hell:Dispatches from Chechnya" by Anna Politkovskaya
  • "Moment of truth in Iraq" by Michael Yon
  • "The Forever War" by Dexter Filkins
  • Generation Kill by Evan Wright
  • "My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath" by Seymour Hersh
  • "The Massacre at El Mozote" by Mark Danner
  • "Seasons in Hell: Understanding Bosnia's War" by Ed Vulliamy
  • My War Gone By, I Miss It So by Anthony Loyd
  • Unreasonable Behaviour: An Autobiography by Don McCullin
  • Soldier of the Press: Covering the Front in Europe and North Africa, 1936-1943 by Henry T. Gorrell
  • Dispatches from War, memoirs" by Anderson Cooper
  • "Ridding the Devils" by [(Frank Palmos)] Bantam 1990
  • "The Sorrow of War" translated Phanh Thanh Hao & Frank Palmos" 1994.
  • "The Mark: A War Correspondent's Memoir of Vietnam and Cambodia" by Jacques Leslie
  • "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families" by Philip Gourevitch

See also


  1. Jules Claretie, La vie à Paris, Bibliothèque Charpentier, 1896, p.367
  2. Walker, Dale L. "Jack London's War." World of Jack London website.
  3. Kepplinger, Hans Mathias et al. "Instrumental Actualization: A Theory of Mediated Conflicts," European Journal of Communication, Vol. 6, No. 3, 263-290 (1991).
  4. DIXIE, Lady Florence in Who Was Who online at 7345683 at (subscription required), accessed 11 March 2008
  5. Nussbaum, Louis Frédéric et al. (2005). "Hyōbusho" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 692., p. 692, at Google Books
  7. Bio, Jacques Leslie,
  8. 1966 inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall Of Fame. video letter to his daughter from Vietnam


External links

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