Former Hostage On Protecting Journalists Journalist — and former hostage — Chris Cramer talks about how his experience as a captive during the 1980 London Iranian Embassy siege evolved into an effort to protect journalists in hostile conditions.
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Former Hostage On Protecting Journalists

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Former Hostage On Protecting Journalists

Former Hostage On Protecting Journalists

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

This has been a perilous month for frontline journalists. Iran has cracked down on reporters trying to cover the protests. Among the journalists in prison are reporters for Newsweek and the Washington Times.

Two American journalists were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea. Also this month, New York Times reporter David Rohde escaped from the Taliban, who had kidnapped him last November.

Later we're going to hear from a psychiatrist who has studied the psychological hazards of covering war and offers treatment to frontline journalists.

Our first guest, Chris Cramer, has spent much of his career sending journalists into hot zones and trying to keep them safe. As we'll hear, his interest in protecting journalists developed after he was taken hostage while on assignment.

Cramer is former head of news gathering at the BBC and former president of CNN International. He's now the global editor of multimedia for Reuters and president of the International News Safety Institute.

Chris Cramer, welcome to FRESH AIR. What's been going through your mind about what front-line journalists are facing now?

Mr. CHRIS CRAMER (Global Editor of Multimedia, Reuters; President, International News Safety Institute): Well, I think we've seen a trend in the last maybe five, 10, 15 years, where more of your colleagues and my colleagues are potentially in harm's way than ever before. And I include indigenous journalists, those who report on the countries they live in, and those who travel in from the U.S. or Europe, and I put them all in one category.

You know, something's going on out there at the moment. Our industry is in peril. You know, some dreadful statistics in the last 10, 12 years, something like well in excess of 1,000 media workers, and by that I mean people who report on the stories and those who support them, whether it's translators or interpreters or drivers or producers or cameramen, you know, they are very much in harm's way.

It's not possible any longer, to, if you like, behave as though you're in a bubble. It accrues from one side to another in a hostile zone. You know, we're being targeted, we're being imprisoned, we're being harassed, we're being assaulted, and sometimes and all too frequently, we're being murdered.

GROSS: Now let me back up before we talk more about what you've been trying to do to help journalists in war zones. Let me back up to the I think precipitating story in your life that got you headed in that direction, and this goes back to 1980, when you were briefly held hostage. Would you tell us that story?

Mr. CRAMER: Yes. I was a producer - television producer for the BBC based in London. And at the end of April, 1980, I was asked by the BBC to get a visa to go and cover the hostage crisis, the American hostage crisis, in Tehran, where if you recall, a large number of U.S. diplomats and other folk had been taken hostage by the Republican Guards. And the only way I was able to get a visa, because I couldn't do it on the phone or in writing and in correspondence, was to take myself to the Iranian embassy in London.

I was actually only in the embassy for about 10 or 15 minutes when it was stormed by a number of gunmen, who I subsequently discovered were Iranian dissidents, and they took both myself and 25 other people hostage for a period of six days before Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister in Britain, sent in the special forces, the SAS, to break the siege.

I actually only lasted, if you like, for a day and a half before it was pretty clear to me that - I had a horrible instinct that it was going to end very unpleasantly. My journalistic instincts, in fact, really sort of died on me in the first 12 hours.

I did Telex some information to the outside world and then set up an interview for - between the leader of the terrorists and the BBC, but during the night, the first night, my kind of journalistic instincts sort of quietly went to sleep, really, and my own personal instincts kicked in, and I had this horrible foreboding that it was going to end extremely unpleasantly, and particularly for me.

So you know, the mind is a great vehicle, and overnight, something happened to me. I became, to myself, extremely unwell, very, very quickly, and by the noon of the next day, I had, if you like, begun to shut down physically.

So the gunmen were convinced that I was having a heart attack or something worse than that or something slightly this side of that. So was rather unceremoniously dumped onto the sidewalk outside the embassy and for the next few days actually was able to work with the authorities. In fact, I didn't realize it was the special forces, I just thought it was the police, who - you know, towards the siege being concluded, I guess, about four days later.

I'm telling you all of that for the following reason, you know, not because I have a victim syndrome here, but because I was very tempted to leave the profession after that.

It was very clear to me that if I couldn't, if you like, continue to go to war, there was nothing else for me. I turned down psychiatric counseling. The BBC were kind enough to offer it twice. I didn't want to admit to myself, and I didn't want to admit to my managers, that if you'd like, I'd lost my nerve. And it was only…

GROSS: Let me just stop you here. I just want to back up a second. You said your journalistic instincts died after you were taken hostage, that they remained for a few hours, and then they just kind of died. If they were functioning properly, in your mind, what would you have been doing compared to what happened?

Mr. CRAMER: Terry, I think some people listening to this broadcast would automatically assume, as I did, that this was the scoop of a lifetime. You know, I found myself inside a horrible hostage situation, you know, with the appalling irony that I was there to go and cover something equally unpleasant happening in Tehran.

So this was my golden opportunity to shine. I could've done a variety of things, and I've rehearsed it in my mind 1,000 times since. You know, I could have secured the release of 26 hostages. I could have - anything from the range of single-handedly overpowering the gunmen to, you know, getting a Pulitzer Prize of whatever the British equivalent, what would be.

But that's not what I did. It's not what I wanted to do after a very short period of time. It is almost impossible to explain to someone what it feels like to have, you know, a young person, many years younger than yourself, pointing a gun directly at your head and in his left hand having a hand grenade, which he ostentatiously takes a pin out, in, out, in, out over a period of 15 or 20 minutes. That is almost impossible to explain.

Many people react in a completely different way to it. To me it was the most single, terrifying thing of my entire life, and I never want to repeat it or come close to repeating it.

So when I talk about my journalistic instincts closing down, you know, very good friends of mine have said well, didn't you realize that you had the capacity to own the scoop of the century here? And I said yes, but frankly, survival was much more important to me. So I have absolutely no regrets about that at all.

GROSS: So you say your body shut down. Was your body shutting down out of fear? Do you have any idea what was going on in your body?

Mr. CRAMER: Yes, it was shutting down because of panic. It was shutting down because of fear. It was shutting down - my systems, I believe, were closing down because I had just - I was determined that flight should kick in, and you know what? I mean, I still have mixed emotions as to whether or not I really was ill or wasn't, although the moment I got - was put into an ambulance outside the embassy, and they tried to put an oxygen mask over my face and tried to inject me with something or other, I tore the mask of my face and said stop the ambulance now.

If you're going to storm the embassy, I need to tell you things. For example, I need to tell you there are six gunmen in there. And they said no, no, no, no, there are two. I said no, no, take it from me. I've counted them. There are six.

They are extremely heavily armed, and they have explosives, and they are going to kill hostages, and the person in the back of the ambulance, who as it turns out was a member of the special forces, and I thought he was an ambulance worker, screamed to the driver to stop the ambulance, and he burst out of the back door and left me in the ambulance - back at the ambulance by myself because he went off to tell them, you know, that piece of information, which I happened to think was crucial because I do believe they were going to storm the embassy.

GROSS: Were there people in the embassy who were killed?

Mr. CRAMER: Yes. About three days after I was released, so day five, I guess, or maybe into day six of the siege, they had threatened to kill a hostage every hour unless their demands - which are rather vague at this distance, but they certainly wanted a number of their, you know, colleagues back in part of Iran released, and they wanted the usual plane to the airport and all of that stuff - and threatened to kill a hostage, one every hour, if their demands were not met, and they executed one hostage, threatened to execute a second one, and at that point, Margaret Thatcher deployed the SAS into the building, you know, around lunchtime on the sixth day.

GROSS: And were people killed during that part?

Mr. CRAMER: Yes. The gunmen sprayed the room where most of the hostages were kept, and they killed one. They seriously injured two or three others. The SAS killed five of the six terrorists, and one of the terrorists actually, you know, infiltrated himself into the hostages and managed to get out of the building, and I suspect if he had not done that, he would have been the sixth one killed. And he was subsequently tried, and I gave evidence at his trial at the Old Bailey, and he was jailed for life and I think released last year actually.

GROSS: So did you ever write this up as a story?

Mr. CRAMER: No, not for me. I mean, I did with a BBC sound recordist, who was there until the end. He and I co-wrote a book, which frankly, was not a journalistic exercise, and you know, I know now what a cathartic exercise is.

It was a downloading, for me, of a number of anxieties, you know, and feelings of guilt and all of that stuff, and it was more about that than wanting to document it. And the book was published about a year later and was a resounding failure as a book, but it was a useful exercise for me, and I'm not sure what his motives were, but no, I'd never wrote it up as a story. I did - you know, I was interviewed.

Clearly I had a duty to my employers, the BBC, so obviously I made myself available for interviews immediately after the siege ended and subsequently after that. But I don't regard that as a journalistic part of my life. I regard it as a crossroads of my life because it convinced me that covering wars was not for me, and if I wanted to stay in the business, I had to, you know, choose another path, which as it turned out was, you know, worked out fairly well for me because I, you know, went into middle management and then senior management.

GROSS: My guest is Chris Cramer, president of the International News Safety Institute and former president of CNN International. More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is Chris Cramer president of the International News Safety Institute and former president of CNN International. He went into management after the experience of being held hostage by Iranians left him too traumatized to be a war correspondent.

How did you feel when you went into management, sending journalists into war zones - because that was part of job - handling international news, knowing that you felt you couldn't handle that yourself, that you felt you had failed when, you know, the grenade was in front of your face, and the gun was pointed to your head.

Mr. CRAMER: If I had known then what I know now, I would have realized that the most intelligent thing I could have done was to instantly go off and see a psychiatrist because, you know, I know now that I had a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, which lasted for many years and manifested - I mean, it didn't have a fancy label in those days, but it went down the traditional path of stress that we know about these days, which is, you know, nightmares, claustrophobia, not being able to fly, not being able to actually go in elevators or even escalators, not being comfortable sitting in a room unless I had my back to the door, not going to theaters or restaurants for a very long period of time, all now I know to be classic, if you like, signs of a form of PTSD.

So my early few years in middle management, I had the utmost respect and, indeed, was in awe of people that I assigned to war zones, but I was still processing this stuff myself. It made me much more protective of my staff, and as I, you know, if you like, went up the, you know, greasy pole of management, I did find myself in a position of being able to influence the way in which people were sent into war zones and, you know, I think was able to, if you like, do a little bit of intellectual payback and to make sure that on my watch, people would get the very best of care and would get the very best of attention, whether it was the best training or the best equipment or the best vehicles to drive.

And you know, in the mid-'80s, late '80s, this was pretty unconventional stuff, even at a big, well-funded, mature organization like the BBC. I mean, I think many of my staff thought I was pretty weird.

GROSS: But the advice you were giving was for their safety. So what was some of the advice you were giving, and what were some of the systems you were setting up early on with the intention of protecting the journalists you were sending into war zones?

Mr. CRAMER: Well, I guess - I mean, I can focus on, I think, the siege of Dubrovnik, which I think it was in 1991, when if you remember, Dubrovnik was under siege.

The BBC crew there made the very intelligent assessment that if they were going to stay, they could well get killed. So they informed me as the whatever I was then, you know, foreign editor or assistant foreign editor, that they were pulling out. And my first response was sort of anger, really, that you know, how could they do this because that would undoubtedly mean that we would not be able to, you know, get those wonderful awards that you get at journalistic - you know, annual journalistic awards, but that passed very quickly, and I was disgusted by that emotion, and I said how dare you, how dare, I behave like this?

So really, myself and a number of colleagues took it upon ourselves to draw up some pretty simple guidelines about - safety guidelines, you know, with the opening headline that no story is worth a life. No picture sequence or audio sequence is worth a serious injury. There's always another day to do this story.

Now that simple, bold, declarative sentence that no story is worth a life was unbelievably controversial at the BBC…


Mr. CRAMER: Because there were many people, not just in the BBC but in the industry in Britain, who thought that somehow undermined and belittled the job of a journalist. You know, my own view then and even more forcefully now, is I'm not belittling what you do, what I'm saying to you is there's always another - you know, you can drive down that road tomorrow or the next day.

You don't have to go in headlong pursuit of a story and disregard your own life or those of the colleagues you're working with. And I think it's sort of ironic that the phrase no story is worth a life is - I actually frequently hear it played back to myself by other people in other contexts. And it's not that I'm proud of the phrase, but I'm just - what makes me smile is, you know, nearly 20 years ago now, it was considered heresy to say that.

My view is it was part of a process of the media industry growing up. People who fight fires, you know, don't go off to fight fires without the most profound training and equipment and guidance and support before, during and after that particular incident.

Members of the armed forces, both here in the U.S. and overseas, now regard all of this stuff as par for the course. You don't go and do this until you're - unless you're well-trained and well-rehearsed and well-prepped on what you might - you know, what you might confront when you do what you do.

And yet the media profession, until fairly recently, and pockets of the media profession still, seem to think that they can drift in and out of war zones, you know, without any harm coming to them. Life's not like that. It certainly isn't like that anymore.

GROSS: What kind of training do you try to provide journalists now before sending them into a war zone?

Mr. CRAMER: We worked with a security company, and there's an odd number of these security companies now around the place, and designed I think to begin with a three-day course, not a four-day course, and it's now mostly a week's course.

And it's standard fare for the industry, you know, CNN, BBC, Reuters, Associated Press, you know, many distinguished U.S. newspapers, NPR, for journalists or those who work with them to go off on these, what they call hostile-environment courses. And they're mostly residential, and they cover a variety of pieces of road craft, if you like, all the way through from, you know, the grisly part of, you know, what weapons do to bodies all the way through to how to evade and avoid being taken hostage, how to behave if you are taken hostage, all the way through, crucially, to very, very, very advanced first aid, battlefield first aid, and many of my colleagues around the world have actually had cause to use that.

Alan Johnston, the distinguished BBC correspondent taken hostage in Gaza, he went on one of these hostile-environment courses, and there is, you know, a pretty unpleasant experience where they put a black bag over your head, and he'd heard this was going to happen, and in other words, he was braced for it, and the instructor said to him Alan, the next time this happens, it's going to be for real. You know, fast forward a few months, and that's exactly what happened to him in Gaza.

So there's role-playing. It's, of course, all an exercise, it's not real, but it prepares you for a variety of things that might happen to you when you're, you know, covering something overseas or even in your own country.

GROSS: Now you know, you came up with that phrase no story is worth a life, but in your position, you have sent many journalists into war zones, and of course, the way to make sure that a journalist isn't killed in war is to not go into the war zone in the first place. So I'm sure that there have been times for you when it's been difficult to decide whether the situation was too risky to even send a journalist there, and I'm wondering if you could give us an example of a situation like that, or was it a very difficult judgment call for you?

Mr. CRAMER: Well, I mean, I think there have been tricky judgment calls down the years, and you know, I have in a variety of different forms, if you like, been assigning people to potentially unpleasant or known unpleasant parts of the world, you know, both at the BBC and CNN and now at Reuters. And I think there are some parts of the world where I'm, you know, profoundly uncomfortable about sending people ever, and you know, Somalia is one that comes to mind.

You know, Somalia is a killing zone for journalists, plenty of examples of that. At various times down the years, I have had a prevailing view that we should not go. And you know what? What I don't believe in, and what tends to make me very irritated, is the notion that oh, well, don't you understand the journalist on the spot should really make that judgment for him or herself? And I don't accept that.

I think, you know, I think this is a partnership. I think journalists and those who work with them around the world frequently have most of the data, but at the end of the day, it's a management call. It's about the safety of our staff. If we say that our most valuable resource are our staff, then we need to behave as though that's true, which means on occasions, we will not go to certain parts of the world, which is unfortunate, but you know, it does not mean we never go there.

It means that circumstances might change, and we can go there maybe later, or we can send fewer people there, but I think this has been the healthy part of the debate, that it's not at all unusual now for, you know, very sophisticated safety plans to go in front of management, you know, middle management or senior management and be assessed against the following equation: What's the risk versus the reward here? What's the journalistic reward? You know, can we maybe do it next week or next year as opposed to tomorrow?

GROSS: Chris Cramer will be back in the second half of the show. He's the president of the International News Safety Institute and former president of CNN International. I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross, back with Chris Cramer. We're talking about his efforts to keep journalists in war zones safe. He's the former president of CNN International and former head of newsgathering for the BBC. He's now president of the International News Safety Institute and global editor of multimedia for Reuters. When we left off, we were talking about news organizations need to weigh the journalistic benefits of sending a reporter into a war zone with the risks that journalist will face.

How did you do the risk versus reward equation when the United States invaded Baghdad, and you had to decide who was going to be in Baghdad, where were they going to be?

Mr. CHRIS CRAMER (President, International News Safety Institute): Well I think at the time actually the decision was sort of taken out of my hands, really, because the Iraqis threw the CNN correspondent and the staff out of Baghdad, you know, before - just, I mean they had been there for a very long time and then they were, if you like, sort of thrown out. But I mean, to your general point, I mean, obviously both in Gulf War I and Gulf War II it was obvious that a large number of journalists were going to be in harm's way and so very sophisticated training or in fact, retraining in many cases was put in place. And then in my last few years at CNN, you know, I worked on the basic principle that - and this is going to sound like Catch-22 and so you know, it is a Catch-22, I would work on the principle that no one from CNN would be assigned to Iraq if they hadn't been to Iraq before. And what I was saying is that it was not a kindergarten for enthusiastic journalists.

That unless they had worked in that country and knew, you know, some of the risks or indeed all of the risks that they were taking, it wasn't fair on the rest of the staff in Iraq. And clearly CNN, you know, then had I guess 60 or 70 people there, maybe rather few or maybe fewer these days. But my view was that it wasn't a place for, you know, newbies. That when things got a little safer as they have done in recent months and years maybe it's a time for newbies to get there, if you like, to go off and do their thing. But, so that was pretty controversial at CNN. And the view that people couldn't go unless they'd been there before. But I have no, no regrets about that at all. It was the right call at that particular time.

GROSS: Have you lost journalists at war?

Mr. CRAMER: Yes. And rather more than I care to remind myself, though I can tell you it's seven journalists and those who work with them certainly on my watch, both the BCC and at CNN. Seven, you know, colleagues of mine, some of whom I knew well, some of whom I didn't, have died in a variety of war zones. And that's - that tears a part of my soul away.

GROSS: I'm sure it does. Would you tell us the story of one of those deaths and perhaps a lesson that you learned from it that changed your personal guidelines of how to deal with journalists in combat zones?

Mr. CRAMER: Yes. I mean, I guess, as we're talking 2006 now, a CNN crew in fact in two vehicles was driving in Iraq. And CNN has for some considerable time had you know a - has had a policy of having armed protection, that's pretty controversial for some people. But there were two vehicles and there was a correspondent and cameramen with a driver and a security assistant who was armed and two local staff in a vehicle behind. And the vehicle behind, well, the convoy of the two vehicles was attacked by a couple of vehicles. The first vehicle with the correspondent, correspondent in fact was called - was Michael Holmes, who's still working at CNN, they came under attack. The armed escort fired back and they, you know, they very, very, very narrowly escaped death. Got to, you know, somewhere safe and then realized that the second vehicle was not following them, so it had transpired that the two CNN employees who were in the second vehicle had been murdered.

GROSS: And what impact did that have on how you send journalists into war zones?

Mr. CRAMER: Well, in that particular case, I mean it's, you know, there has been a, you know, I guess debate for a few years now that has the industry crossed the line by, you know, having hired guns to look after us? My view is, and this is going to sound callus, and so be it. I will do anything to protect the people who work with me and for me, short of insisting that they carry weapons themselves, which I - the entire -that notion of that I abhor. I don't think there's any occasion where a journalist should be armed unless possibly if he or she is called upon to protect themselves in some situation and it's, you know, pointless to speculate about. But I will do anything to protect staff and that has meant, you know, authorizing extremely large budgets for armed protection in Iraq, and you know Somalia and other parts of world, Afghanistan. I think that particular incident I've recounted reinforced my notion that the line in the sand is moving the whole time.

The situation has changed down the years now. I mean someone you know very dear to me at CNN said it reminded him of the story of the frog in the boiling water and that, you know, the water is gently turned up the whole time. At what point does the frog realize that if he doesn't jump he's going to be boiled to death? That I think perfectly describes many situations around the world where, you know, journalistic colleagues of yours or mine are covering stories where they are not the best judge of the risks that's going on around them. That means the managers have to have the responsibility to, you know, close an operation down and instruct their staff out and shut off the line of communication and the information flow, which is awful but doesn't need to be permanent.

GROSS: Have you ever pulled a journalist out of a war zone because you felt that he or she was having problems that they might not even have recognized themselves because they're so committed to doing their job and continuing to report on the story?

Mr. CRAMER: It's a really tricky territory. The answer is yes, but not quite as abruptly as you phrased it. I mean, I'm passionate in the view that journalists and their colleagues don't need to prove themselves time after time after time. And I have on several occasions said to them quietly and privately, you know what Harry, Harriet? You can sit out the next one. You don't have to go and do it. And certainly, I've had conversations with people in the field in recent years where I've said, you know what? I think it time maybe for you to take a bit of a rest.

How I ever instructed someone to drive to the airport? No, because it hasn't come to that, because I think most people sort of get these days and the stubborn ones down the years, you know, have enough friends who care for them to, you know, make it pretty clear to them that it's time to take a rest. This is a really tricky balancing act between caring management as opposed to just management and passionate journalists who are determined to continue to cover the story because they care, because they want to make a difference, not because they want the next promotion. Most of the people that I'm talking about, you know, were at the top of their profession.

GROSS: It sounds like you were providing the best support that you can to the journalists you're sending out. And you've tried doing that at the BBC, at CNN, and now at Reuters, and through your work as the president of the International News Safety Institute. At the same time, as news organizations shut down foreign bureaus, it seems to me we're relying more and more on our freelance correspondents to go to those war zones and bring back the stories. And freelance journalists don't have that kind of support network that CNN or Reuters or the BBC or The New York Times or NPR can provide. And I wonder if you agree that there are more freelancers out their now and what your concerns are for them?

Mr. CRAMER: No, it is a fact that, you know, because of this economic turndown that much of the frontline, you know, news reporting for many organizations is now being, you know, being done by freelancers, certainly by indigenous journalists who live in country. But I'm, you know, pretty dogmatic about this and, you know, have expressed this view at all the organizations that I've worked for and have expressed this view. You know, certainly on behalf of the International News Safety Institute, I draw no distinction, Terry, between staff and freelancers. And I draw no distinction when it comes to training, when it comes to proper equipment, and when it comes to counseling and emotional support, you know, before, during, and after a story.

And, you know, frankly, I have little patience for those news managers who think that somehow we can get our international news reportage done on the cheap, you know, by freelancers. I can't accept that. Clearly it's more difficult logistically to ensure that freelancers get trained and crucially insured. You know, once again, I'm very dogmatic on this. There has to be insurance scheme for freelancers. Reputable news organizations do that. The...

GROSS: You're talking about health insurance or is there insurance even beyond that?

Mr. CRAMER: I'm talking about should they be harmed. I'm talking about life insurance.

GROSS: Life insurance.

Mr. CRAMER: I'm saying that we should not as a profession be asking, you know, people to go off in our name and provide reporting for us unless we can afford them the same level of protection that we afford our staff. And that certainly, you know, it was the case at CNN, is the case at Reuters, and I know to be the case at the BBC. And I think that's the right attitude. You know, the horrible statistic is and you put your finger on it, that 90 percent of all journalists who are dying around the world at the moment doing their jobs are local journalists, are not ones who fly in and fly out again. They're people who live there, speak the language, were brought up there. And you know, nine out of 10 of every one of you or my colleagues who die actually are dying in their own countries.

GROSS: Now you said after you were taken hostage at the Iranian Embassy in London that when you managed to get out you were offered counseling, which you declined to accept, but that you later came to regret that because you realized that for quite a long time you suffered with some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which wasn't named that yet.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: So is counseling one of the things you offer journalists in the field or when they come out of a war zone?

Mr. CRAMER: Yes. I mean, certainly the three organizations that I've worked for down the years and many, many more now have a variety of support systems for staff all the way through, you know, say to training ahead of an assignment to, you know, appropriate equipment to wear and all of that stuff. And also the ability should they wish to, you know, take it up to contact or meet, you know, a counselor. And for me it's no more a matter of routine than, you come back from an overseas assignment and you do your laundry. Well I regard this as doing your head laundry. You know, many of my colleagues, you know, tend to rely on extremely close relationships with partners or family or friends or colleagues. And some choose to go off and talk or pick up the phone to a professional counselor. And certainly I, you know, I have experience of, you know, close friends at CNN and the BBC who have volunteered to me because it's nothing to do with me as their manager that it's just routine stuff for them now. They pick up the phone, they go and see someone. It's as obvious as - and as automatic as just, you know, putting their laundry in the Laundromat.

GROSS: Thank you so much for talking with us.

Mr. CRAMER: All right, Terry. I thoroughly enjoyed this and it's a pleasure to hear your voice.

GROSS: Chris Cramer is the president of the International News Safety Institute and global editor of multimedia for Reuters.

Coming up, psychiatrist, Anthony Feinstein discusses the psychological hazards of covering war. Feinstein's book is dedicated to Chris Cramer.

This is FRESH AIR.

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