Don’t bother with the middle men

It’s just after the Arab Spring began and I am in Tunisia. I have been summoned to help on a story about Mohamed Bouazizi, the young man who set himself on fire and was considered the spark that led to the deparure of Tunisia’s dictator Ben Ali.

It’s January 2011 and my job I am told is to get the footage of President Ben Ali’s address to the nation and his visit to the the young man, bandaged from head to foot due to the burns, in the hospital. The footage belonged to Tunisian state television which was in complete turmoil.

The head of the TV had been replaced 2 days before but I did not lose hope. I went to the TV station and said I needed to meet with him asap. Five minutes later I was ushered into his office and made by request. He told me to come back the following day at midday to pick up the footage I needed.

When the rest of my team got back I was akee if I had made any progress and I said we’d have everything we needed the next day. They could not believe it. Their Tunisian fixer had been efforting the same request for two weeks and achieving nothing.

Lesson learnt: always go to the most important man in the shop to make your request.

Here's our CBS 60 Minutes segment:

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