Being a war correspondent inevitably creates a conflict between your responsibility to the people you cover and your responsibility to yourself and your loved ones. So says journalist Janine Di Giovanni (GMAP 16) of the dilemma she faced covering the Syrian war. Di Giovanni spent an evening at Fletcher on March 1, sharing her experience and taking questions from the community after a screening of her documentary Seven Days in Syria.
"It's a really tough call: Do you risk your life? I have a kid. I have to have some responsibility,” she said at the event, which was cohosted by the Institute for Human Security and the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies. “But then there’s the responsibility to [those still in Syria].
"I just feel so bereft at the little we could do ... we risk getting kidnapped and then beheaded," she said, referring to writers James Foley and Steven Sotloff who were killed by fighters of the Islamic State.
The documentary, shot during a 2012 trip made by Di Giovanni to war-torn Aleppo, told the human story about daily life of civilians and soldiers within territory controlled by the Free Syrian Army. Though she has covered twenty different wars, Di Giovanni said the Syrian conflict was markedly different because of its complex proxy-war nature and the lack of humanitarian assistance for Syrians still in the country.
Di Giovanni, a Fred Pakis GMAP Scholar focused on Track II diplomacy, is the Middle East Editor of Newsweek and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. She has reported on conflicts in the Balkans, Middle East and Africa for more than twenty years.
-- David Gilmore, MALD 2016 candidate