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What do you pack?

An international correspondent's life can be exhilarating — the travel, the adventure, the sense of being right in the middle of where it's all happening. But it can also be very risky, especially in a war zone. And it can take an emotional toll on even the most seasoned journalist. The job comes with ethical and philosophical considerations, not to mention practical questions — like what do you pack? From the Second World War to present day, CBC Archives examines what it's like to be a CBC journalist abroad.

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When foreign correspondents are leaving on an assignment, what do they pack? What do they wear? In this lighthearted 1990 CBC Radio interview, host Arthur Black talks to former foreign correspondent Ann Medina about the practical aspects of the job. Medina jokes through much of the interview, but ends with some more poignant thoughts. When a correspondent returns home after seeing some difficult things abroad, she says, "you're going to give people hugs; better hugs than you gave them in the past."
• Ann Medina was born and raised in New York, and began her journalism career in the U.S. She married a Canadian and moved to Canada in 1975, and was soon working for the CBC.
• As a CBC foreign correspondent, she covered the Middle East extensively during the 1980s.

• A 1999 Globe and Mail article outlined CBC foreign correspondent Nancy Durham's packing strategy. Durham is "as tough as they come," wrote the Globe, "but she confesses to a few weaknesses when she packs." Her "must-haves" included:
• A few pairs of Gap stretch trousers "to wear, wash out, and wear again."
• Clean underwear for every day she expects to be away, plus a few extra.
• Little bottles of her favourite creams and lotions "so I can feel clean and fresh and then have another go."

• There are many practical considerations for foreign correspondents, and lodging is another important one. A 2001 London Times article explored the issue of hotels for foreign journalists. Reporter Janine di Giovanni comically described the state of her current hotel room in Kabul: "The big problem is loos and water…The toilet is a hole. There's no running water. You can't wash. You can brush your teeth with bottled water, but people are beginning to smell – especially the guys I'm sharing a room with!"
Medium: Radio
Program: Basic Black
Broadcast Date: June 16, 1990
Guest(s): Ann Medina
Host: Arthur Black
Duration: 18:01

Last updated: January 23, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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