David Willis

Senior Foreign Correspondent, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

David Willis is a journalist and broadcaster who has spent more than 15 years as a foreign correspondent for the BBC. He entered journalism as a junior reporter on the Hertfordshire Mercury newspaper and joined the BBC in 1983. After spells in local radio and regional television, he moved to London to assume the role of political correspondent, based at the Houses of Parliament.

David's career as a foreign correspondent began in 1994, after he was appointed the BBC's Asia correspondent. During six years based in Singapore, he covered the Hong Kong handover, the funeral of Mother Teresa, and the death of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, and obtained exclusive pictures of the Cambodian dictator Pol Pot's "trial" by fellow Khmer Rouge cadres. He covered the devastating earthquake in Kobe, Japan, and reported first-hand on the downfall of Indonesia's president Suharto - as well as the subsequent bloodbath in East Timor, during which he was briefly jailed by the Indonesian authorities. His spell in Asia was also distinguished by a series of exclusive reports relating to the downfall of the so-called "rogue trader" Nick Leeson.

Appointed the BBC's California correspondent in January 2000, David went on to cover stories in North, South, and Central America. He traveled the length and breadth of the country after September 11, gauging reaction to the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. He chronicled the economic collapse in Argentina (during which he and his crew were tear-gassed on the streets of Buenos Aires) and spent the 2002 football World Cup reporting from Rio de Janeiro on the progress of the ultimately triumphant Brazilian national team. He unearthed exclusive evidence of child soldiers serving on the front line in Colombia's drugs war and covered the 2002 election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as president of Brazil. For the last eight years he has also covered the Academy Awards.

David has also served as a war correspondent. He was "embedded" with U.S. forces during the 2003 military invasion of Iraq and filed vivid dispatches from the front line as American marines battled their way to Baghdad. He survived an ambush by members of the Iraqi Republican Guard and attacks on the marine unit to which he was assigned. His reports also featured prominently on National Public Radio (NPR) and ABC News, and in a BBC book, The Battle for Iraq. Since the invasion, he has undertaken a string of difficult and dangerous follow-up assignments in Iraq.

Later in 2003, David was invited to take up a place on the Reuters Fellowship, which every year provides study scholarships to senior journalists from around the world. During a three-month sabbatical as a visiting scholar at Oxford University, he conducted research on the relationship between the Bush administration and the media. Some of his current projects include covering breakthroughs in the fight against Alzheimer's, health problems occurring as a result of oil drilling in Colorado, and other longer-form news features.

David has homes in London and Los Angeles, and is currently working on his first book.


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