Putting the lives of war correspondents ‘on the record’ in the UK 

By Andrew Baud, Communications Leader and Chair of the On the Record Memorial steering group 

For hundreds of years, journalists around the world have risked their lives reporting from the frontline of conflict zones, in pursuit of the truth and to put stories of human suffering and tragedy ‘on the record’ for audiences across the world.  

In 2023 alone, 129 media professionals were killed worldwide, according to the International Federation of Journalists. News articles, live broadcasts and now online reporting shines a light into some of the darkest corners of the world, every day, and journalism plays a crucial role in upholding democracy and human rights for future generations.  

But when these war correspondents are killed while doing their jobs, who puts the journalists’ own lives on the record? 

Fifteen years ago, I received a letter from a member of public when I first started working closely with the National Memorial Arboretum, the UK’s year-round place to remember those who served and sacrificed for the country.  

The writer asked why, despite the hundreds of other memorials to military and civilian organisations at the Arboretum, there wasn’t a memorial to war correspondents. And, on reflection, why doesn’t the UK – which has a long history of news publications dating back to the 18th century – have a national memorial to journalists that report from the frontline at all? 

Having worked with journalists for my whole professional life and understanding the importance of remembering those who have sacrificed their lives for the greater good through my work with the Arboretum, the creation of a national memorial to journalists reporting from the frontline has become a personal mission for me.  

To that end, on World Press Freedom Day this year (3 May) and alongside our partner Press Gazette and a steering group of media representatives and former war correspondents, we launched the ‘On the Record’ campaign to establish the UK’s first memorial dedicated to all journalists who have lost their lives while reporting from conflict zones.  

The On the Record Memorial will provide families, colleagues and friends with a space for reflection and remembrance. Thanks to its proposed location at the National Memorial Arboretum, it will also be available to school children, learning groups, special interest organisations, and members of the public who want to deepen their understanding of the challenges faced by reporters in conflict zones and the sacrifices that they routinely make to share stories from the frontline.  

Unlike the Reporter’s Memorial in Bayeux, France, On the Record will not feature the names of fallen journalists on the memorial itself. However, we know it is incredibly important that the names of fallen UK-based journalists are held formally on record. We want to give families, friends and colleagues the opportunity to tell individual stories, just as the correspondents spent their professional lives telling the stories of others. 

While undertaking our research for the campaign, we discovered a multitude of registers and global databases, from the UNESCO’s Observatory of Killed Journalists to the International Federation of Journalists. In the UK, we learnt that the University of Cardiff School of Journalism has kept a log of every journalist killed on location globally since 1996. But we couldn’t find a comprehensive record of all fallen UK-based journalists dating back further than 30 years, despite many still being within living memory. 

For example, we understand that several dozen journalists from the BBC – including Richard Dimbleby – were embedded, unarmed, in military units during the D-Day Landings and stood alongside the Allied soldiers who fought their enemy on the beaches. Clare Hollingworth is reported to have broken the story of Germany’s invasion of Poland, and reported on conflicts for The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph from Palestine, Algeria and China. There were many other UK based war correspondents during the Second World War and beyond who were not lucky enough to survive the conflicts they were reporting on. 

To address this, we are working with Press Gazette to collate the most comprehensive list ever compiled of UK-based journalists – or those reporting ofr a UK-based news organisation – killed whilst reporting from conflict zones. More than just a database, families and colleagues will be encouraged to contribute to the online record which will preserve their legacy and ensure their own achievements and experiences are put ‘on the record’ in perpetuity.  

Media organisations, potential partners and individuals wishing to contribute to the development of ‘On the Record’ should contact Andrew Baud on or visit https://ontherecordmemorial.co.uk/. 

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