Adie at the Gibraltar International Literary Festival in 2017
|Alma mater||University of Newcastle upon Tyne|
|Chief News Correspondent for BBC News|
|Awards||Richard Dimbleby Award (1990) Fellowship Award (2018)|
Kathryn Adie, CBE, DL (//; born 19 September 1945) is an English journalist. She was chief news correspondent for BBC News between 1989 and 2003, during which time she reported from war zones around the world.
She had an independent school education at Sunderland Church High School, and then studied at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where she obtained a degree in Scandinavian Studies and starred in several Gilbert and Sullivan productions. During her third year at Newcastle, she also taught English in sub-arctic northern Sweden.
In 1993, she was able to find her birth family, an event covered by tabloid newspapers.
A June 2018 news report stated that she was living in Dorset and was still working as a freelance journalist, public speaker and presenter of From Our Own Correspondent on BBC Radio 4. In that same year, after receiving her CBE, Adie warned the public that journalism was under attack:
We seem to be living through a time where there are threats to journalists everywhere, whether it’s repression or censorship, and it’s hugely important to recognise that the intention of journalism is to tell it as it is and we need to do that more than ever now.
In January 2019, at Bournemouth University, she warned postgraduate journalism students that confirming information and verifying news sources were critical in this climate of fake news. She stressed the importance of personally verifying news sources. "Getting your person there is an absolutely standard lesson ... news is not news without verification. ...If you only have the station cat to send, send them!"
Her career with the BBC began as a station assistant at BBC Radio Durham, after graduating in Scandinavian Studies. In 1976, she was a regional TV news reporter in Plymouth and Southampton, and moved to BBC national (television) news in 1979. She was the duty reporter one evening in May 1980 and first on the scene when the Special Air Service (SAS) went in to break up the Iranian Embassy siege. As smoke bombs exploded in the background and SAS soldiers abseiled in to rescue the hostages, Adie reported live and unscripted to one of the largest news audiences ever while crouched behind a car door. This proved to be her big break.
Adie was thereafter regularly dispatched to report on disasters and conflicts throughout the 1980s, including the "troubles" in Northern Ireland, the American bombing of Tripoli in 1986 (her reporting of this was criticised by the Conservative Party Chairman Norman Tebbit), and the Lockerbie bombing of 1988. She was promoted to Chief News Correspondent in 1989 and held the role for fourteen years.
One of her most significant assignments was to report the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Adie's BBC crew were the only journalists in the square and were able to document much of the atrocity, which was not acknowledged by the government. She later recalled: "... at least we were there and we have the evidence of what they did. They would love to erase it from history."
In Libya she met leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. She was also shot by a drunk and irate Libyan army commander after refusing, as a journalist, to act as an intermediary between the British and Libyan governments; the bullet, fired at point-blank range, nicked her collar bone but she did not suffer permanent harm.
A newspaper cartoon features two soldiers, one with a tattered flag "To Iraq" on the barrel of his machine gun, and the caption "We can't start yet... Kate Adie isn't here." Her insistence upon being on the spot elicited the wry adage that "a good decision is getting on a plane at an airport where Kate Adie is getting off".
In 2003 Adie retired from the BBC, where she had been Chief News Correspondent and began work as a freelance journalist (among other work she gives regular reports on Radio New Zealand) and also as a public speaker, and presents From Our Own Correspondent on BBC Radio 4. She hosted two five-part series of Found, a Leopard Films production for BBC One, in 2005 and 2006. The series considered the life experiences of adults affected by adoption and what it must be like to start one's life as a foundling. She is of Irish descent. Adie is a best-selling author:
Adie's role as a BBC television journalist covering the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege in Princes Gate, central London, is included in 6 Days. The role was played by actress Abbie Cornish.
The satirical British puppet TV show Spitting Image depicted Adie as a thrill seeker giving her the title "BBC Head of Bravery" and featuring her puppet in dangerous situations.
In 2017 Adie was appointed as ambassador for SSAFA, the UK’s oldest military charity. Adie is currently also an ambassador for SkillForce and the non-governmental organisation Farm Africa. In July 2018 Adie became an Ambassador for the medical charity Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal.