The Role of Journalism
Chris Matthews‘ introduction was short, sweet, and to the point:
“It is now my honor to introduce the greatest international
journalist of our time, Christiane Amanpour.”
As CNN’s Chief International Correspondent, Christiane has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Somalia, Rwanda and the Balkans. She has also covered hurricane Katrina, the London Tube bombings, Madrid railway bombings and the riots in France. In addition, she has interviewed numerous world leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
From her unique global perspective, the results of crisis, whether due to famine, genocide, war, or economic meltdown, largely effects the innocent women and children who are caught in the middle. Her message was powerful, laced with keen insights that can only come from having experienced such situations first hand, as opposed to reading an intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.
In 1994 she covered the genocide in Rwanda, a tragedy in which nearly one million were killed. But as dire as that situation was at the time, much has changed in the years since and the country has, at least partially, healed and changed for the better. An unexpected development since the end of that crisis relates to the increasing role women now play throughout the country. Utilizing micro loans, thousands of women have started their own business, and most are succeeding.
- 41% of all businesses are owned by women
- 50% of the coffee farmers are women
- More than half the seats in parliament are women
- Nearly half of the president’s cabinet are women
“Rwanda rocks when it comes to ending poverty by empowering women.”
Following the Dream
Christiane grew up in Iran, in a family that respected and embraced the power of women, but their lives were turned upside down when the Islamic revolution came to power. They lost their home and possessions, while many friends and family were imprisoned or executed. At that point Christiane decided to become a journalist and tell the world stories such as those her family had just endured. She came to America to pursue that dream.
Her passion manifested itself in working long hours, sacrificing personal and family needs, and ultimately risking her life to cover the stories that needed to be told. Over the years many of her friends and colleagues have been injured, killed and captured, yet she continues to pursue her calling. Still, she admitted that it’s tempting sometimes to want to quit and do something else.
The Importance of Storytelling
This sense of frustration became evident as she described the current crisis in the field of journalism as “long on sensation, short on serious“, yet ultimately convinces herself that, “this still matters.”
“I truly believe, and it is so, that the history of civilization is built on storytelling…”
With a profound understanding that she and her colleagues are storytellers, and that the essence of journalism is storytelling, when her 8 1/2 year old son asks why she is leaving again, she answers:
“If the storytellers quit, the bad guys will win.”
She added that a strong and robust democracy, even this one, needs journalists “who are committed to reporting the truth, without fear, nor favor.” Sighting the build up to the war in Iraq, it is clear to Christiane that journalists didn’t do their job, didn’t ask tough questions, didn’t hold the government accountable, and therefore failed in their primary duty to seek and spread the truth.
Difficult Next Steps
In her travels around the world she has never seen such a level of global angst caused by events of the past eight years. And as the world awaits the results of the upcoming election in America, the next president must address “the need to rebuild this nation’s tattered reputation…and needs to rescue freedom’s good name.” He will also need to close Guantanamo, ban torture, lead on climate change and engage our adversaries without preconditions.
In eloquent terms she painted the picture of a world now in shambles, its citizens suffering through wars, hunger and poverty, and being victimized by relentless campaigns to consolidate evermore power and wealth in the hands of a few.
From a personal perspective Christiane talked pointedly about finally finding her voice, and then using that voice in support of the truth. The goal of Global Patriot is very much the same, to find and use a voice that pursues the truth, and encourages everyone to do the same.
“It is about justice, and not just us.”
It is up to us, even while caught up in our own quest for power and wealth, to consider the effects of our thoughts, words and actions upon society, upon this planet, and upon its people. It requires a new level of social awareness and global consciousness, a renewed sense of purpose, and above all, a profound appreciation for humanity.
“Sitting on the sidelines is so yesterday.”
I couldn’t agree more, as our future in truly in our hands. As Global Patriots, the question today is:
What are you doing to make your voice count on the world stage?