The second event in the Harker Speaker Series took place on May 16 at the Blackford campus with an engaged audience of parents, students and faculty in attendance to hear Dahr Jamail recount his experiences as one of only a very few unembedded journalists in war-torn Iraq.
Jamail, whose work now regularly appears in leading newspapers and magazines mostly in Europe and Asia, described how his outrage with the mainstream media led him to leave a comfortable life in Alaska to travel to Baghdad in the early months of the war in 2003.
Equipped with only an inexpensive laptop computer, a small digital camera, meager savings and the e-mail addresses of 130 friends and acquaintances back in Alaska, Jamail described how a fortuitous combination of Internet research and an early string of opportune encounters not only got him into Baghdad safely, but also helped him secure his first driver and interpreter.
Once in Iraq, Jamail was able to talk directly to the people most affected by the conflict, both citizens and soldiers. Jamail explained how this immediacy, along with his ability to bypass military censorship, enabled him to report on events that went either unseen or were falsely reported by mainstream observers offering, for example, a firsthand account of the actual events inside Fallujah following the now-famous siege.
Jamail spoke directly to the dozen or more middle school and younger children present when he stressed that the most important precept of journalism was to simply get out and tell the story.
Following the 45-minute presentation, the audience enthusiastically engaged Jamail with detailed questions, some of the most enlightening coming from the students. Jamail noted afterward that it was the response of the students, in particular, that gave him the most hope, saying that the intelligent comments and questions made his work that much more worthwhile.
Jamail’s upcoming work focuses on a quiet resistance movement that has been gradually spreading amongst deployed soldiers, and its impact on the war.
by John Jerney (John Nicolas, Gr. 4; Cristina, Gr. 7)