Broadcaster and journalist Kate Adie was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the Society of Editors' 20th anniversary gala dinner on Tuesday.
At the event at Stationers' Hall in London, Ms Adie spoke of her formative years as a trainee with local radio in Durham, of covering royal tours and of meeting Libya's Colonel Gaddafi.
During her encounter with the dictator, he took her to one side to tell her about his plans to boost tourism.
"You don't always get confided in, but you do learn that some leaders are very odd indeed," Ms Adie (74), who was a regular visitor to Northern Ireland to report on the Troubles for the BBC, told the audience.
"Those of us on the ground took the decisions and the overriding argument was to bring the story back, not become the story - a great lesson to tell young journalists."
Adie (left) also recalled being with the Queen in Bangladesh when the monarch was greeted by a band equipped with wind instruments to play God Save the Queen.
"When it had finished, she looked at the bandmaster, who saluted her, and she said, 'That was nice. What was it?' He said, 'Your national anthem, ma'am'. 'Lovely,' she said, and went on her way," explained Adie.
Over the years, the Northumberland woman has put together a list of journalistic priorities, with being an eyewitness taking prime position.
"Facts need to be very much to the fore these days," she told the audience. "(You need) to get on the ground, ask questions, ignore the PR, ignore the press officer, ignore the bigwig who tries to muscle in. Talk to people who have experienced it."
Ms Adie concluded by summing up the importance of journalism. "It is a pillar of democracy. It matters and we will all work to keep it a strong, vibrant pillar that reflects society, that informs people and that gives people the truth," she said.