Coventry University welcomed a very special guest this week, Alex Crawford, Special Correspondent for Sky News, and four times winner of the Royal Television Society (RTS) Journalist of the Year Award. This special Coventry Conversation began with the Universities Vice-Chancellor, Professor Madeleine Atkins, CBE, starting the afternoon off by welcoming Alex. She talked about how Alex is known as a ‘fire-fighter’, to which Alex responded: “Amongst other names” making a joke about how people see her. The V.C. went on to describe some of Alex’s incredible story about how she reported from the back of a rebel pick-up truck into Tripoli during celebrations in Libya.
Alex took the reins from there, saying that: “My crew, I couldn’t actually do anything without them.” She joked about how they make her look good and she then picks up all of the awards. Alex explained that the crew suffer through the same perils she has too when out getting a story including staying in squalid conditions and having no food. She moved onto how she has: “been doing it for a long time.” but never got lots of recognition until the past six months since her reporting in Tripoli, Libya.
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Sky News Special Correspondent Alex Crawford (with camera operators Garwen McLuckie and Jim Foster, and producer Andy Marsh) beat the world’s media to report bravely on the collapse of Col. Gaddafi’s empire in Tripoli. In this exclusive report, she tells how she secured the scoop: “We felt we were at the heart of a massive story – a Berlin-wall-type moment – powered by Libyan people, albeit helped by Nato jets”
There was a crackle of gunfire – far too close – and the man next to Jim fell down dead, shot through the head. His blood and brains splattered over Jim’s neck and shoulder. Jim was covered so much at first I thought he’d been hit. Some of it sprayed over Garwen’s camera. I was shaking and thought I was going to be sick. But I got out a tissue and wiped Jim’s shoulder and then Garwen’s lens. Incredibly, it wasn’t the worst we’d seen all week. But it was certainly the closest.
It was Tuesday, August 23, and we were outside Gaddafi’s compound watching the fighters pounding the exterior wall. We didn’t know it then but they were just a couple of hours away from breaking it down and entering the heart of the Gaddafi empire.
We stood in the same clothes we had been wearing all week, clothes which seemed to be permanently wet from perspiration. It was baking hot and we were all sweating – through exertion – and, in my case, not a little fear. Garwen was angry. Now this is unusual. Garwen never gets angry. But he was now. “That was so unnecessary,” he said. He had seen it all. One of the fighters with an AK-47 had just run into the street and fired –aimlessly and without care – and one of the bullets had hit the man rubbing shoulders with Jim and just in front of Garwen and me. He had been killed by one of the fighters on his side. We moved further back along the wall together and all caught our breath. No-one said very much. Like so much that happened that week, events were moving so quickly we didn’t have time to dwell. That would come later.
Written by Alex Crawford – Sky News Correspondant