Story URL: %%INSERTURLHERE%%
Story Retrieval Date: %%INSERTTIMESTAMPHERE%%
Thanks to generous support from The McCormick Foundation, the Medill Washington Program created a unique course that debuted in 1993 a few months after the United States invaded Iraq – a course designed to teach journalists how to think about military strategy, tactics and operations, insurgencies and counterinsurgencies and terrorist activities and their effects on national security. That thinking then can inform their journalism to allow them to provide more accurate, incisive and insightful information to their listeners, readers and viewers.
War has been described as the most complex -- and destructive -- of all human activities; terrorism surely has a similar description. Reporting war has always been one of the most daunting of assignments; reporting on national security and terrorism is at least as daunting. The idea behind this 11-week seminar is to tackle the reporting challenge head-on by providing a solid introduction to the critical issues in reporting war and terrorism, with an emphasis on fundamentals, and addressing the risks of coverage with a hands-on practical training course.
The course is not limited to future or present war correspondents; the topics are meant to be of general interest, and the sessions on history and analysis should be of value for any journalist.
Originally, the course was offered once a year, but the overwhelming student interest led the McCormick Tribune Foundation to increase its support to allow Medill to offer the course twice a year and, now, three times a year.
Instructors have included David Moniz, a winner of the Gerald R. Ford Prize for distinguished military coverage in 2002 who works at the Pentagon for the Air Force and formerly covered the military for USA Today; Al Pessin, Pentagon correspondent for Voice of America; and Roy Gutman, foreign editor for the McClatchy Washington Bureau who won a Pulitzer Prize for his stories uncovering war crimes in Bosnia. Professor Ellen Shearer developed the course three years ago along with Gutman and often helps teach it.
Wars, terrorism and national security are news; the course helps students gain the knowledge needed to cover these subjects by tapping the best minds in the field to provide the tools for better reporting.
The course is structured around five approaches to help journalists assess conflict and terrorism:
Crucial to reporting conflict and terrorism is to understand risks and reduce them, and to this end students attend a two-day “dangerous environments” familiarization course with Centurion, the British training firm, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Or, they spend two days at the Marine training facility at Quantico to learn about military terminology and practice weaponry and chemical weapons training, night-vision training and other hazardous environment training.