Guest Lecture: Oliver Poole

Foreign Affairs and War Correspondent Oliver Poole gave journalists the opportunity to hear some of his tales from the Middle East, with plenty of advice for those that aspired to his position.

The Iraq reporter took a different approach to previous Guest Lectures given to Journalism students at UCF, using the time to retell some of his more dramatic experiences.

“They came up with the worst possible ways to scare the shit out of you,” said Poole regarding kidnaps and beheadings of people he knew in the country.

One of the more major pieces of advices he parted with was that of the ’15 minute rule’. He believed it was close to impossible for a kidnap or hostage situation to be organised in that space of time, so that was the maximum time they had before they had to move on.

“I had a guy whose job was to tap me on the shoulder when the 15 minutes were up,” Poole said.

To get out of sticky situations, Poole recommended a BGAN satellite phone. He compared them to razors, being relatively inexpensive to buy, but the data charges continue to be ‘extortionate’. They benefit over regular phones due to the almost perfect signal coverage provided by the many low-orbiting satellites across the globe.

However, avoiding that sort of trouble in the first place was as simple as dressing as the locals, and not drawing attention to yourself. “We wouldn’t take anything with us that locals wouldn’t have,” Poole added. He also made a point of driving an older vehicle as opposed to a heavily protected one. When you think about it, the idea makes a lot of sense.

Although he did remark that “nothing gets you out of a problem quicker than cash,” and with the environment he described, it was hard not to agree.


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