Veteran Foreign Correspondent Shares Stories
April 3, 2007 2:12 PM
Washington Post correspondent Pamela Constable visited the journalism department at SF State on Tuesday.
The lecture hall was filled beyond capacity with students from several different classes lining the steps in order to hear the well-traveled journalist speak.
The speech however, got off to a rocky start when Constable arrived late because of traffic and getting lost in the city.
“I’ve found my way around the entire world but for some reason I get lost in San Francisco,” joked Constable, instantly engaging the lecture hall with responses of laughter.
“She literally risked life and limb to be here,” teased professor Jon Funabiki, who introduced Constable to the eager classroom, and who referred to the accident Constable joked that she had nearly suffered.
Once started, the classroom was instantly enchanted with the tales and opinions Constable related to the audience.
“It was truly an enlightening lecture,” said Bonnie Lasher, 22, a senior cinema major. “She had so many valid points.”
Constable, who has worked as a journalist for 33 years, has been to dozens of foreign countries. She's filed stories from Afghanistan and Iran and was an embedded journalist in Iraq. She spoke of both the hardships and rewards of the path she has chosen for herself.
“It can be very very lonely,” said Constable. “You’re without hot bath, food and clean surroundings. We only had electricity for a few hours each day. If you want to get in this profession you have to be willing to put up with an un-American life-style.”
Constable also spoke heavily about the current conflicts that are plaguing the Middle East, including less of her opinions and more of her observations, sparking rigorous questions from some of the students in the audience about religion, war and journalistic integrity.
“Our job as a journalist is not to say something is wrong, it’s our job as journalist’s to understand it,” said Constable. “It’s my job to understand why things are the way they are and translate it so readers and viewers can understand.”
Towards the end of her lecture she pushed for students to continue to learn and to read the news. She said people are unable to get a story from just a five-minute blurb on the nightly news.
“Far too many people are thinking they’re getting their news from TV and from the Internet,” said Constable. “Then you’re not learning anything.”
Some students responded well to the point made by Constable.
“We are less exposed to the real story behind the news,” agreed Lasher.
Constable left the class with a plea to keep themselves informed in the world of news and constantly be aware of what was happening both abroad and at home.
“How can we be respectable citizens if we don’t really know what’s going on,” she said. “Try.”
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