Breaking News A Stunning and Memorable Account of Reporting from Some of the Most Dangerous Places in the World

Martin Fletcher

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

288 Pages



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During three decades covering wars, revolutions, and natural disasters, Martin Fletcher worked his way from news agency cameraman to top network correspondent, facing up to mass killers, warlords, and murderers. With humor and elegance, Fletcher describes his growth from clueless adventurer to grizzled veteran of the world’s battlefields. His working philosophy of “Get in, get close, get out, get a drink,” put him repeatedly in harm’s way, but he never lost sight of his purpose and remained determined to take the risks necessary to deliver vivid, memorable reporting. In a world focused on celebrities, leaders, and wealth, Fletcher took a different route: he looked at those left behind, those paying the price. He answers the question: Why should we care?

These real-life stories each examine different dilemmas facing a foreign correspondent. Can you eat the food of a warlord, who stole it from the starving? Do you listen politely to a terrorist threatening to blow up your children? Do you ask the tough questions of a Khmer Rouge killer, knowing he is your only ticket out of the Cambodian jungle?


Praise for Breaking News

"With humor and eloquence, Martin Fletcher's book Breaking News lays out many of the moral and ethical dilemmas a reporter faces in his daily work. This is much more than an exciting survey of major world developments stretching back for thirty-five years; Fletcher discusses his personal conflicts while faced with extraordinary choices: whether to film a Somali girl dying of starvation or to put the camera down whether to help colleagues blown up in a minefield or to continue filming; whether to stay as the guest of a warlord, while risking his wrath for telling the truth; how intimate to become with terrorists whether to film a murder or not; how far to risk his own life while travelling with Afghan Mujahideen; and a host more dilemmas that are covered in no journalism rule book. While today's journalism, media and communications classes stress technology, style and substance, Fletcher's book offers the opportunity to discuss real journalistic dilemmas from the field. Read an anecdote, and then pose the question: what would you do?"—Dow Smith, Associate Professor of Broadcast Journalism, Syracuse University

“For decades Martin Fletcher has been the gold standard of television war correspondents, and his new book, Breaking News, does not disappoint. It is a real-life, cross-continent adventure story, told by a man who has spent his life bearing witness to the good, the bad, and the brutal. It’s a great and moving read.”—Anderson Cooper

“Martin Fletcher has given us a stunning and memorable account of the risks, rewards, complexities, and enduring lessons of reporting from some of the most dangerous places in the world. His family’s Holocaust history frames his own eloquent insights and questions about the madness of the world that followed. I’ve known and admired Martin for more than thirty years, and this book makes me proud to call him friend and colleague.”—Tom Brokaw

“A page-turner and a marvelous read. Martin, the ever-dashing war correspondent, cheated death so many times that he should have been hardened. Instead you meet a soulful man.”—Connie Chung

"Fletcher, NBC News Bureau Chief in Tel Aviv, reviews his career covering the Middle East and Africa in this memoir. After briefly working for the BBC as a writer, Fletcher became a cameraman for a British film news agency, with his first major assignment the Yom Kippur War in 1973. This was followed almost immediately by the 1974 Cyprus conflict, during which he learned a lesson about how dangerous war journalism can be: he describes an incident in which one reporter was killed and others injured by land mines. This tragedy tempered his excitement in covering war but did not diminish his drive to succeed. Soon recruited by NBC, he tried to convince the network of the importance of Africa as an area to cover. He describes living under apartheid in South Africa and reporting on conflicts in other African countries, as well as events that signaled the beginnings of Islamic extremism. Throughout, he does an excellent job in giving both the historical background of the event and the details of how he and other journalists handled them. As a historical overview, an example of a successful journalist's career, and a journalistic tour de force, the book will draw readers in larger public libraries and in college journalism programs."—Joel W. Tscherne, Cleveland Public Library, Library Journal

"Veteran TV war correspondent Fletcher describes several decades of risking life, limb and sanity to chase down stories on the front lines. Now Tel Aviv bureau chief for NBC News, the author gives a sobering but unforgettable account of a life spent sifting through some of humanity's worst atrocities. He explains his career choice in part as a way of confronting the loss of much of his extended family in the Holocaust. Spurning a comfortable desk job, he began as a BBC correspondent in the early 1970s and headed out into the field. There he discovered he had a nose for news. More than once, it almost cost him his head, but it also enabled him to submit memorable, prizewinning reports from war zones like Kosovo, Somalia, Cyprus, Rwanda and the Middle East, where the author has lived with his wife and family since the first Gulf War. Although Fletcher provides ample tales of heavy drinking and womanizing with colorful colleagues in his early years, much of his work involved slogging through mud, mountain and jungle in search of grim stories of famine and slaughter. He describes watching colleagues blown to bits by land mines a few feet in front of him, interviewing murderous Somali warlords and witnessing genocide up close in places like Kosovo and Rwanda. Perhaps his most chilling interviews have been clandestine West Bank meetings with Palestinian terrorists dedicated to killing Jews, including the author's own wife and children. Through it all, Fletcher . . . does candidly acknowledge the emotional toll it has taken, as well as the sheer luck that has kept him alive.  An eye-opening, deeply felt memoir that brings us behind the cameras in the world's deadliest hot spots.—Kirkus Reviews

"Currently NBC news bureau chief in Tel Aviv, Fletcher offers a vivid account of his 30-year career as a war correspondent in the hot spots of the globe. At age 25, Fletcher grew bored with his BBC desk job and grabbed a position as a cameraman with a video news agency. Five days after he arrived in Israel for his second assignment, Egypt and Syria invaded. With no experience under fire, Fletcher found himself dodging bullets on the front lines—and loved it. Over the following decades, wherever there was a conflict—Rhodesia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, South Africa, the killing fields of Rwanda, the first and second intifadas—Fletcher covered the scene. While documenting his adventures, Fletcher also gives a riveting portrayal of the suffering around him and of the macho adrenaline junkies who make up his profession. Fletcher has a clear understanding of the ambiguities of his position as a purveyor of misery and death—for one story, he finds a Somali refugee near death and films her until she stops breathing. Fletcher's engagement with his own family's suffering in the Holocaust adds complexity to a narrative that is both fast-paced and moving."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

One of the most highly respected correspondents in television news, MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC News’ Tel Aviv bureau chief and correspondent, has covered every event of consequence in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the last thirty years. Fletcher has received numerous awards for his reporting, including five Emmys and the prestigious duPont award. He still reports from all the world's hot spots, while carrying out special assignments for NBC News.

Read the full excerpt



  • Martin Fletcher on his book, Breaking News (Part 1)

    Former Times editor Martin Fletcher discussing his journalism career as a reporter in and on some of the world's most dangerous places.

  • Martin Fletcher on his book, Breaking News (Part 2)

    NBC News Tel Aviv bureau chief and correspondent Martin Fletcher explains why he wrote his memoir, Breaking News.



  • Martin Fletcher

  • Martin Fletcher has covered almost every conflict and natural disaster in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for thirty-five years, winning five Emmy Awards, a Columbia University Dupont Award, several Overseas Press Club awards, and a cameraman’s award from Britain’s Royal Society of television. Fletcher and his wife, Hagar, have raised three sons. He is currently based in Israel, where he is NBC News bureau chief in Tel Aviv.
  • Martin Fletcher
    Martin Fletcher