Last week, Shyam Bhatia gave an inspiring address to VocSoc (Eton’s Careers Society) on his decorated life as a journalist.
Mr Bhatia spoke of his initial luck in finding a niche that he could easily specialise in – affairs in the Middle East – and from there the opportunities and experiences that this presented to him.
These ranged from witnessing the execution of communist sympathisers by the Mujahideen to being detained in Afghan prisons, and benefitting from access to the PLO President Yasser Arafat during critical moments of peace negotiations in the 1990s.
Luck, Bhatia explained, had played an enormous role in his life. Indeed, merely surviving as a prominent journalist in the Middle East was lucky, as he has sadly experienced the murder of several of his colleagues. Luck, however, also provided access to autocratic regimes on the cusp of chaos and destruction.
Mr Bhatia concluded his talk with advice for any aspiring journalists: going from a ‘nobody’ to a front-page writer requires being intelligent in the choice of one’s field, and the ability to assess risk whilst on the hunt for a great story.