Go bags and tips for the roving reporter

Canadian journalists pose for a group portrait at the international reception at ONA18. (Photo: Violet Wang)
Canadian journalists pose for a group portrait at the international reception at ONA18. Photo by Violet Wang

Editor: “An attack took place in Paris.”

Reporter: “When’s the next flight to Paris?”

Breaking news journalists everywhere know this call of duty can occur anytime and anywhere.

No matter when they get this call, international journalists are always ready to go.

Part of their readiness is their “go” bags. All breaking news reporters and international correspondents have those bags at their desks or car trunks. Their go bags are small, lightweight, sturdy and full of survival tools.

Survival tools vary by reporter, so the student newsroom asked several journalists at ONA18: What’s in your go bag?

Samanthi Dissanayake, of BBC News Online in Singapore, says she always travels with red chilis, peppermint tea and cups of noodles. (Photo: Violet Wang)
Samanthi Dissanayake of BBC News Online in Singapore, said she always travels with red chilis, peppermint tea and cups of noodles. Photo by Violet Wang

The BBC’s Samanthi Dissanayake is based out of Singapore. She brings red chilies, peppermint tea and local currency with her on most trips.

She advises to keep a go-on bag very lightweight so it does not turn into a burden for the team during coverage.

Cina Kipar, a Turkish journalist who has worked for various news agencies, keeps only a notebook, a pen and button-down shirts in his go bags.

Traveling somewhere you’re not familiar with? Kipar advises getting advice from locals. They know more than he ever would, he said, and they can be of great help if needed.

When it comes to snacks, Puerto Rican reporter Maria Arce — who has traveled to more than 50 destinations – recommends protein bars.

Arce, who works for El Nuevo Dia, said eating constantly while being in the field is essential to keep journalists’ engines going for trips that can be of unknown duration.

“Talk to other reporters and share information with them to understand more,”  said Kattia Bermudez, who reports for the Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion from different parts of the United States She keeps her spare batteries, laptop, sneakers and essential medicine in her go bag.

“Try to learn the local language while you’re there,” said Elma Gonzalez, who now works for KPBS, the public television station in San Diego. Gonzalez sees every travel opportunity as an immersive learning opportunity.