Ian Bateson is an independent correspondent based in Kiev, Ukraine and has written for Reuters, the Daily Beast, the New Statesman, VICE, Al Jazeera and Die Zeit Online. He is a graduate of Columbia University and was a Fulbright grantee at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. He is currently working on a book on Ukrainian identity after the Maidan Revolution. We got in touch with him recently to find out about his time at Brighton College and what he's up to at the moment...
- When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
I always thought I would do something with languages and different cultures. At the time I thought "respectable" jobs using those skills meant being in a suit and being a diplomat or some sort of person dealing with international business.
- What are you now you've grown up?
I am an independent foreign correspondent who has worked in Ukraine and Russia covering revolution and war, writing for The New York Times, The Guardian and Reuters. I have conducted interviews in Russian, Ukrainian and German and only occasionally wear a suit.
- What is your best memory of school?
I had a wonderful Theatre Studies A level group. We performed a one act play from Jean-Claude van Itallie's collection America Hurrah on American consumerism and suburbia. I am still proud of what we did.
- What was the best piece of advice you were given?
I think actually it was from a book. Basically to realise what your currency is and make the most of it and stop trying to be like other people.
- What do you do /did you do as a career?
I travel around the region interviewing politicians and activists, covering LGBT marches from the marching columns with right wing activists trying to break through police lines to get at them, and travel to remote areas to see how people are affected by war.
- What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Caring makes your writing better but threatens your objectivity. You have to care about getting the story right more than any empathy you might feel.
- What have you done that you are most proud of?
In Ukraine a group of hackers published a list of journalists' contact information, including mine, labeling us a "terrorist collaborators" for going to separatist controlled areas (I had gone to cover the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17). After international pressure the list was initially brought down, but then the minister of the interior came out in favor it and it went back up. I wrote a hard hitting op-ed in The New York Times calling on other high ranking Ukrainian officials to break their silence and condemn the list. Three days after the article came out the president condemned the list. That is how journalism is supposed to work.
- What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
Sleep is always nice, but it is hard to complain when you have interesting things to keep you busy.
- What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
I never know when to go literal or figurative with the questions. In reality I would probably brings some sort of water purification equipment, vitamins and something to get me off the island like a radio. If we are talking more symbolically a copy of Everything is Illuminated (my favorite book with the descriptions of love I relate to the most), spices (fish tends to be bland and I like my food hot) and a pair of vintage Ray-Ban sunglasses (a little style never hurt).
- How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who always tried to help those who needed it.