Here is a practical guide for working journalists, especially field reporters working around the world. These sections may need to be reorganized into their own pages.

A great starting point for the foreign correspondent or parachute journalist are the Wikitravel topics.


Cellular phone[]

Useful for staying in contact with your workmates and sources, cell phones have different variants worldwwide.

Using your phone in countries other than its "home area" is called roaming and the price varies depending on your provider and the country being roamed in. In general, it's on the expensive side, but there are some alternatives (see below).

The most widely used cell phone standard in the world is GSM, or Global System for Mobility. For most countries (other than the United States, Japan and Korea) this is the main standard, so it can be used across countries. In the U.S., GSM is used by the carriers AT&T/Cingular and T-Mobile.

If you have a dual-band or tri-band phone, this means you have an even greater chance of using your phone. GSM phones usually use a SIM chip (subscriber identity module) smaller than a postage stamp, to provides the "identity" for the phone, including the phone number and cell phone carrier info.

GSM works on several different frequencies. Most of the world uses 900 MHz and 1800 MHz. The United States is "different" and uses it at 1900 MHz and 850 MHz (also called 800 MHz). Therefore:

  • A dual-band phone will work in most places around the world with GSM, such as Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa and South America.
  • A tri-band or quad-band phone (adding the 1900 and 850 Mhz bands) will cover the US as well.
  • Japan and Korea are famous for not having any type of GSM at all, using only the PDC and CDMA systems, respectively.

Look into purchasing a local SIM chip, which can be inserted into your GSM phone and provide you a local number and cheaper local calling rates.

Laptop computer[]

For reporters and writers, find one which will be light, provide a comfortable keyboard and a screen fit for your eyes. This combination will be different depending on your strength, size and eyesight, respectively. Depending on your requirements, battery life might be important, anywhere from 2 hours to 6 hours.

In general, a laptop in 2005 should be less than 5 pounds (2.3. kg), provide at least 3 hours of battery and cost no more than US $2,000.

Voice recorder[]

Good for recording interviews to transcribe later, and to have a record of sources' words in case the story is challenged. Tape recorders, both compact cassette and minicasette are quite standard. For radio and television, CD-quality DAT reocrders and Minidisc are used.

With the digital age, MP3 or WAV file recorders using either hard disk or solid state storage are being used. Examples include the iPod.

Digital camera[]

These are so small, cost effective and high quality, that reporters who were not photographing events before are bringing them alone. A photo editor would likely need at least a 3 megapixel picture to find it useful.

Specialized tools[]

  • Blackberry handheld email
  • Satellite phone

Danger zones[]

Some hints from veteran reporters on reporting in disaster, war or hot zones.

  • In tropics, long sleeve pants and shirts (protect against mosquitos and sun)
  • Hand cleaning lotion (air is putrid and full of microbes)
  • Have a travel partner, when covering riots or mobs. Work back-to-back with a partner to prevent being attacked from behind
  • Entering danger zones, check car for tampering, or explosive planted there
  • Try not face direction of explosion, damage to back rather than front
  • Avoid eating shared common meal, hepatitis and other communicable disease
  • Consumed more canned food or canned beverage

Also see[]

Journalism overview


Portions of telephone section based on work by Niels Elgaard Larsen, Ted O'Neill and Evan Prodromou, Wikitravel user(s) Nzpcmad, Matthewmayer, Nickpest, Huttite and Ronline and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Released under Creative Commons Sharealike 1.0 license.