PULLMAN, Wash. – Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent who has been covering the Israel-Palestine confict, visited Washington State University today (May 23) to speak and accept the 2002 Edward R. Murrow Award for Distinguished Achievements in Broadcasting from the Murrow School of Communication.
She received a standing ovation as WSU President V. Lane Rawlins called her to the podium to make the award presentation.
Amanpour told the audience of her tremendous respect and admiration for WSU alumnus Edward R. Murrow for whom the award is named because of “the principals he exhibited…and the moral issues he grappled with during World War II.” She is the first woman to win the award.
The highly praised correspondent said the challenge she faced during the years of covering Bosnia was moral. “Civilians weren’t caught in the crossfire, they were the target.”
Amanpour said she has grappled with the issue of objectivity, impartiality and fairness. In her opinion “you do not draw balance between aggressor and victim, the murderer and the dead.”
Journalist must walk a fine line. “In my opinion, what we say and how we report the truth defines not only the moment but us as people,” the CNN correspondent said.
Her message, “Killing the Messenger” was entitled quite literally from reality. She cited numerous examples of journalists killed in the line of duty saying 69 journalists were killed, worldwide, covering news last year. “These days we are being targeted because someone doesn’t like what we say.”
Amanpour said CNN and a handful of other news organizations have taken extra security measures for their foreign journalists by sending them to train with special forces in Britain, outfitting them with bullet proof vests and providing armored vehicles.
“Now, the question is how to do the job without shutting yourself out or being overly scared,” she said.
There is a danger in the United States for journalists now, said Amanpour. “It’s worse than censorship,” she said. Journalists have no access to the U.S. military in Afghanistan. “We are told it’s our patriotic duty to accept what they tell us.
“By not letting us close to military activity, TV audiences are getting just one view of America… a grainy green night scope vision of bombing,” she said. “We cannot tailor our report to please the politics of the day in no matter what country we are.”
Amanpour, whose office is based in London, has worked in many of the world’s most tense regions since the 1990s. Her most recent assignments include Israel, Palestine, Iran, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Haiti, Algeria and Rwanda.
She began her CNN career in 1983 as an assistant on CNN’s international assignment desk in Atlanta. Previously, she worked in CNN’s New York and Frankfurt bureaus. Amanpour also contributes to CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”
WSU also broke ground today (May 23) on a $12.7 million addition to the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication in ceremonies held earlier in the day.
The 24,000 square-foot building, scheduled to be completed fall 2003, will house research and teaching labs, a digital television news studio, faculty offices and a 172-seat classroom auditorium. The computer labs will be among the most advanced facilities in the world, allowing faculty and students to conduct nationwide surveys, measure psycho-physiological responses to communication, and evaluate online research.
The school is the only comprehensive communication school in Washington, with programs in broadcasting, print journalism, advertising, public relations and communication.
An archived version of Amanpour’s talk can be seen via the Internet at experience.wsu.edu. Type “Amanpour” in the video search box.