Reflections on Kim Barker’s Visit

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“Journalism  can’t change the world. But you can change one life at a time.”

I found Kim Barker’s visit to our class very enlightening and eye-opening into the somber, serious world of foreign correspondence. She had a very strong personality and determined attitude that I think lends itself to adapting well to different, strange environments or high-stress situations. From what she spoke on, I wanted to share some key thoughts.

On the difference of being a female reporter/foreign correspondent in conflict zones

            –There were people saying women don’t belong in those environments, pushback for local women  journalists to get involved

-Women have to deal with getting grabbed in a crowd. She has punched others (foreign journalists can do it and get away)

-Compared to what local women go through, it’s nothing. It’s an opportunity if you’re a  foreign woman; you’re like a weird 3rd sex.

On how to build a safe network of sources

 Without speaking the normal language, you don’t have the ability to read people and their body language

– It’s challenging working with a translator

-Need someone who doesn’t work for the ISI (spy agency), not someone who’s a religious/ethnic minority that will attract attention for asking around

-Pass on good sources to other journalists as a trustworthy person (this can create very lucrative jobs for local people)

-On whether foreign correspondence is better or worse than local reporting

Locals know the language and way around

-Foreigners can be more fair, objective with less stake or opinion about conflict

-Don’t need fancy cameras to photograph anymore, now iPhones are enough to send photos in

On whether she feels her war reporting was important

-America cares more about Casey Anthony, not the war reporting and coverage

-4% of US news was on Afghanistan/Pakistan, while 1% of news was on Iraq when we spend billions a week on the wars

-Wanted to show how badly things have gone, spiraling down the drain

-What’s important is the people affected, sources interviewed and their families, translators, drivers etc. who risk their lives and aren’t given their due for the stories that come out

-No story is worth dying over


3 Comments on “Reflections on Kim Barker’s Visit”

  1. I am glad you were able to get the direct quotes. She had so many interesting 1-liners and ideas that it was almost impossible for me write them down without missing the next one. She gave me a whole new perspective on reporting in those areas.

  2. I found her insights valuable, as well, in the context of being a woman in a leadership position. She had to overcome obstacles that many of us have never had to face and will never face in our life time. The cultural aspect of her experience was so interesting; definitely lots of things to ponder.

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