Simon Akam

About: Resume

EDUCATION

2008 – 2009. Fulbright scholarship to Columbia University Journalism School, New York, USA. MS in print journalism. Won further scholarships from Overseas Press Club, Foreign Press Association, New York Financial Writers Association and Hugh Fulton Byas Foundation.

2007 – 2008. International Language Institute, Egypt. Intensive course in written and spoken Arabic.

2004 – 2007. Worcester College, University of Oxford, England. BA in English Literature, 2:1. Distinction in first year exams (ranked 11th/270). Awarded college scholarship. Editor of Oxford Student and deputy editor of Cherwell newspapers.

EXPERIENCE

2010 - Present. Reuters Sierra Leone Correspondent. One of very few western journalists based in the post-conflict West African country. Wrote for Reuters international text service and filed photos for both breaking news and features. Topics covered included iron ore, gold and diamond mining, political corruption, security sector reform and the conviction of Charles Taylor. Exposed UN capitulation to government demands to withdraw their envoy from Sierra Leone. Also made five reporting trips to neighbouring Liberia and other travel to Ivory Coast, the Gambia and Senegal.

2009. James Reston Reporting Fellowship at the New York Times. Worked at the newspaper in New York for five months after finishing Columbia course, until visa restrictions required departure from the US. Wrote daily hard news and extended features assignments for both the newspaper’s print edition and the website. Made the front page twice. Also contributed to the Sunday book review and travel sections. Subsequently contributed to the paper from West Africa, covering refugee exodus from Ivory Coast, Liberia’s 2011 presidential election and the reaction to Charles Taylor conviction in Sierra Leone.

2005 - present. Contributor to publications including the Economist, the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent, the Washington Post, the Times Literary Supplement, the New Statesman, the Literary Review, Intelligent Life, the New Republic, Tatler and the Financial Times. Filed news stories, features articles, and reviews up to 4600 words on tight deadlines. Wrote about Egypt, Africa and the US and contributed photographs. Topics included long-form profiles of two West African ex-warlords, gambling on Native American reservations and the secondhand book trade in New York. Reviewed both fiction and non-fiction. 2010 winner of the Guardian’s International Development Journalism Competition.

2003 – 2004. British Army Gap Year Commission. Gained top pass at Regular Commission Board selection centre. Passed course at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served as a second lieutenant in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in Germany. Regularly acted as orderly officer for 5000 man garrison. Qualified as military alpine ski instructor and ski tour leader and taught soldiers in the Bavarian Alps.

SKILLS

Languages. Arabic and German.

New Media. Photoshop, Bridge, InDesign.