Unrest in the Middle East has made 2011 a dangerous year for foreign correspondents. The Overseas Press Club (O.P.C.) is taking measures to improve their safety by reinventing the culture of mentoring, beginning with a new social networking site, Global Parachute (opcglobalparachute.org). Founded by investigative reporter and former O.P.C. president Allan Dodds Frank, the site, which should go live in six weeks, will be a resource for journalists to share on-the-ground reporting tips specific to various countries, beginning with Yemen, Turkey, Thailand and Cuba. The goal, Mr. Frank told Off the Record, is “to replace that great conversation you have in a bar with old hands.
“Make ours a double!Global Parachute will publish fact sheets on key countries and host Wikis on various topics, such as finding translators, fixers, and drivers. And then there are the little things: “When Bob Sullivan–who I worked with at ABC television news–was heading off to his first overseas assignment, covering the war in Vietnam, he went to his boss, a legendary foreign editor named Walter Logan,” Mr. Frank recalled.
“‘Cotton underwear,’ Logan told him. ‘Nylon clings in the tropics.’ That’s not in the textbook.”
The site will be accessible only to accredited journalists. For everyone else, consider that one a freebie.