Former BBC broadcast journalist Kate Adie OBE said being a reporter is an “absolute privilege” as she accepted the Bafta Fellowship last night.
Adie, who spent her working life at the BBC, including 14 years as chief news correspondent for BBC News until 2003, said her job was “essential in a democracy”.
She began her career in local radio with BBC Radio Durham before moving into broadcasting.
Her big break came when the BBC interrupted its coverage of the World Snooker Championships in 1980 for her coverage of the Iranian Embassy siege in London from behind a car door.
She then went on to report from conflicts around the world, including the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, the Gulf War in Iraq, Kosovo in 1998 and Sierra Leone in 2000.
During her career Adie has been shot at on more than one occasion.
Adie said: “I’ve been very lucky. I think being a reporter is just a wonderful job, it’s fascinating, it’s surprising, it demands a lot of you, but it is so rewarding and you get the chance via television to tell people at home all about it. It’s a fabulous feeling.
“I also think that it’s important because it’s essential in a democracy. We hold truth to power, we tell it like it is, and in these times I think that is even more important than ever.”
She added: “It’s a wonderful job to do. I’ve had marvellous colleagues, great support from the BBC, but over all of those years I’ve learnt one very special thing: it’s an absolute privilege to be a reporter.”
The award was presented by BBC News presenter Kate Silverton, who said Adie was a “genuine hero” of hers, adding: “I became a journalist because of her.”
She said: “I was able to report from Iraq and Afghanistan because she had forged the path before me and so many other young women who followed her lead.”
Silverton added: “She remains a fearless trailblazer. Most of us at some time have heard her reports from the world’s most dangerous conflict zones, her cool, crisp voice serving to bring home the tragedy of conflict, be it in the Balkans, Gulf War, Ireland or Rwanda.
“Her care, her tenacity, determination and fearlessness knows no bounds as we saw in her reports from Tiananmen Square when she remained to report despite the great risk to her personal safety.”
Silverton described Adie as an “exceptional” broadcast journalist and author and commended her hunger for the truth and clear way of telling a complex story.
“Kate is revered by her peers, especially her female colleagues. She is kind, brave, brilliant, determined and utterly deserving of this fellowship,” she added.