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Professor draws on his foreign correspondent roots while overseas

Closeup of Lawrence Pintak.
Lawrence Pintak

WSU journalism professor Lawrence Pintak fell back on his career as a foreign correspondent last week when he was in Karachi as military clashes between Pakistan and India brought the two nuclear‑armed countries to the brink of war.

Pintak interviewed the president of Kashmir, the disputed territory at the center of the confrontation for, one of several outlets for which he writes. A former CBS News Middle East correspondent who was founding dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Pintak has covered dozens of wars, revolutions and terrorist attacks on three continents.

“Pintak’s work concerns critical issues of world importance, and it’s great to have him representing Murrow College in this way,” Bruce Pinkleton, dean of Murrow College, said of Pintak’s latest reporting.

Earlier this year, Pintak received one of two 2019 Senior Scholar awards from the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) for his research on Islamophobia in the 2018 midterm elections.

“I think it is critical for faculty in our field to keep one foot in journalism and the other in scholarship,” said Pintak, who has written five books on the intersection of media and policy in U.S. relations with the Muslim world. His latest, American & Islam: Soundbites, Suicide Bombs and the Road to Donald Trump, will be published in May by Bloomsbury. Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather called it “Insightful, well‑written, challenging,” adding that, “Pintak is both a globe‑trotting journalist and a distinguished scholar. He’s not afraid to challenge assumptions, group‑think, and the powerful.”

Pintak was one of only a handful of American correspondents in Pakistan when Pakistan shot down at least one Indian jet that was on a bombing mission against an alleged base run by a Kashmiri extremist group. In an article titled, “Pakistan Claims Kashmir’s ‘Moral High Ground,’” Pintak interviewed Sardar Masood Khan, the president of Jammu Kashmir, as the Pakistani-administered portion of the disputed territory is called.

“I sent him a WhatsApp and he immediately agreed to the interview because he knows and trusts me,” said Pintak, who has been meeting with Khan, a former UN ambassador, since long before he became Kashmiri president. “For journalism students, it’s an example of the value of cultivating sources. We had often spoken off‑the‑record and I never quoted him, so when I needed an on‑the‑record interview at the height of a crisis, he was ready.”

Pintak, who holds a PhD in Islamic Studies, was in Pakistan for a board meeting of a journalism center in Karachi that he helped create, when hostilities broke out and the military grounded all commercial flights. The center was developed with a major grant from the U.S. State Department, which he advises on the project. The former dean, who stepped down in 2016, makes frequent reporting and research trips to the Middle East and South Asia.

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