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tv   Elizabeth Becker You Dont Belong Here  CSPAN  July 1, 2021 4:23am-5:19am EDT

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program. >> thank you for coming to this book you with a backer, you you don't belong here which is a rating and fascinating and on down three
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journalists who covered the vietnam war. i'm really happy to hear on behalf of program on this is that technology communications at the school of international affairs. the institute for the study of human rights at you, and he was working on conflict resolution so we're please you elizabeth and we got students, alumni, and journalists you in the. so, i think you were probably going to start rationalizing slides. is a meeting before you begin ? >> only is a wonderful year. is a specialist already injuries my wall, my daughter
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completed her graduate studies in journalism. start a brief presentation. this is the, we don't belong here. the three when who profile as the three women who rewrote the story of war, they befriended our a fresh photojournalist who like the other three arrived one way, paying their own way to vietnam, she says saigon. she had few experiences as a photographer. she's in her mid-20s. it was 1966. you i will yet by her own work and her outsiders view of a humane photography, she amazing bluegrass and became
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the first woman to win the georgia pole award for photography robert, will know which is the thing or reporter. excellent down is france's sister,. she is my long shot my relay. she's a blue long lost, intellectual family of wealth and prestige. her dad was a cia director and her mother was party this socially. she on own, no job with a couple of ideas for freelancing and she had a taking a different view of vietnam, the vietnam war. looking at the vietnamese you, the sensory landscape
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folder and the. eventually led her to write fire, the vietnamese americans of vietnam was, it won't work possible in making you to. she was 31 years old. upon his australian, case where. a family of intellectuals, she was in new zealand and raised in . here i again on her own with her, no credentials to see, no job, no leaves on the yet she do outsider work a very different path for a contact word, she began a great combat reporter, going into the societies of billion and the enemies, telling a story that had united others have.
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contributions were recognized cries named after, that he or to the asian journalists with the greatest determination and courage in journalism. next slide please. this is kathleen law, the french photographer. my book is not filled with a lot of analysis of gender this weekend. i told the story as a name is big lies. capturing was already accomplished pianist, parachutist when she arrived in saigon. and she was the only journalist it turns out male or female, photographer or writer or reporter who was qualified to jump with the hundred 73rd brigade in the
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only aerosol of the war. look at her. she's barely 5 feet tall, weighs about 87 pounds but she's hurt equipment almost over taser. she's got three cameras around her neck. my husband who is an accomplished parachutist and a veteran said he can't believe she could jump the cameras didn't fly her face but she did jump. and next slide please. while she jumped he tookthese amazing photos . taking photographs with all three cameras while she's jumping into, so. she ran and she writes in her diary that is the softest landing he ever had and she was used two jumping over the burgundy countryside. needless to say that photograph has been reproduced everywhere. next slide please. this is one of her dress.
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she said, she's small. finally, whatever word you want to use. she used her size and her almost there abilities to get as close as she could to her subjects, even in,. this is a 20-year-old man named gordon wiki. this is one of the great mouse and can see the desolation of the our ground. one of the great battles and she is crawling in the month getting close enough to take these series of pictures as he tries to save the soldier. the soldier died. he cries out in anguish which is what you see there and picks up the soldiers rifle goes to try to kill the vietnamese on the other side injured and killed his comrade. it's so close that there couldn't believe she was even
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there . he didn't see her. he said where was she and senior. the next. her and all. here's a soldier in the crackingposition of waiting , alert. ray. and you can see it in his eyes. see it in the way he's posturing, she had a gift that the great a few bureau chief said he had seen since world war ii. her photographs were stunning on the cover of magazines like life and carry match. next slide please. in the course the civilians. she was at at catching that moment as the battles proceed and policies for villagers out of their homes. generations had lived in, may
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have close to nothing and there on the road. their barefoot, not sure where they were going. next slide please. this is ansys fitzgerald, crestor. as they say, she came with a lot of privilege, a lot of connections and that was used against her. people thought well, she's got it made. she's got money, she's got all the connections. you can get easy stories but she did the opposite. she did the hardest kind of reported reporting no one else was doing. she would go to the battlefields, not as often by a longshot at the man she would go to the sicilian hospital to see how the civilians were taking care. in her privileged life she had never seen anything like what these people were. bills, the smells, and she reported it all.
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she. then this is when she was trying to tell the story of how this damage in her was not helping the american cause, she did things like go and spend a lot of time in one village alone to write all along peacefully new york times call the life of the village. next slide please. because i showed you all the trees pictures i want to read you a little bit from the magazine article. this is 1966. the united states will work for one year already she was zeroing in on the problems. she writes the land looks salted in my history as constant and emotional as water in the military partners village is insecure, isolated by more. the american and vietnamese armies with the airplanes
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have altered those businesses of time and space. very numbers that are there machines have distorted the proportion and sale possibilities. the villages still work with oligarchs, rooted farmers, wishing that he will do well people watching only one way seasoned water in combination with the car they have got poverty, terror suspicion of all they had brought uncertainty. please she will easily to that one the pulitzer prize, national or, the is more. no the vietnam war you and
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she, she. she showed the american public what the world look like from the vietnamese point of view, you. here. the masses of vietnamese people who resented the french no more and no less than a resented the americans . i'll just say the french of course were the colonists who came before them. it was the men who focused that resentment. the fact was many vietnamese and wanted the americans to intervene and i want them to be not only for practical reasons but for the psychological ones. the americans to be the our all-powerful barbarians, to take responsibility for the war atthe same time . americandomination . i love those strange reverses that the mind makes for the sake of self consistency both
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the desire and the fear merged in the expression of fear that the americans would leave them. the more americans spend their best efforts and their lives in vietnam, the less influence they had to reform the government. with both men and material resources the americans were enforcing corruption and destroying the tissue of vietnamesesociety . a stunning work. next slide please. and here's kate wet, the australian. you can see from just her manner, she gave her full attention, herfull intelligence . she arrived inking she could cover the australian army. the australians had the same rules against women covering
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it on the battlefield as the americans did but the australians actually enforced it and the americans had been convinced not to enforce the vietnam for many reasons, one of which is women before kate had convinced them to just suspend it, let the women stay in the field as long as they didn't cause any problems and if it turned out that suspension became permanent and these women effectively altered the wave in the future for women to cover the war but kate murray made her name first of all she was a freelancer just as frankie was and katrina was but kate made it in 1968 in january at the beginning of the tet offensive which i'll remind everyone was the turning point of the war. this january 68, the president of the united
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states lyndon b. johnson and general westmoreland who was in charge of the troops in vietnam, everyone had promised a light at the end of the tunnel. they could see an american victory and instead on the new year the vietnamese both the vietnam on vietnam and north vietnamese launched a countrywide south vietnamese uprising, and attack and to the horror of americans back home it included breaking into and taking over one floor of the us embassy. kate the freelancer was one of the first ones there and she wrote a dispatch that made her name. she said the embassy looked like a butcher shop in eden. her recording and even her photographs were on front pages around the world and
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she finally got the job united press international and she showed player for the humane approach, what we would now call human rights which the other two did as well that was very much the outsiders point of view. even in congress, that it wasn't all bang bang and next slide please. here's an example. this is a upi report, a wire service. she writes every day so this is old-fashioned. where you, she probably did dictate this and maybe she was in saigon but she writes this very quickly, this is calledlife and death of a helicopter crew . it came in, 1968. there are times when the vietnam war makes our reporters fingers shake while holding a pencil. my pencil wobbles as i write
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the story of two young helicopter gunners i knew briefly. i saw them go to war many times. now i have seen their bodies come back. the day before that thursday i rode with them as they flew out again and again over the jungle . they lived the ordeal of those military words, resupply, was fire support. it was a special routine of life and death. it started each time a pilots stick coming up, the door gunners visor sliding down over their eyes, high over the green junglewind , tears at your foes and flattens your face area and the impersonal army report saying the helicopter crash and burn , all four crew members killed in action. i promise you, you didn't see many articles that brought tears to your eyes in the first paragraph like that one
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. next slide please. we've already gone through. next slide please. kate was so good that when the united states invaded cambodia in 1970 spreading the word to that country she was named deputy bureau chief of the new phenom pen zero within a few months, her bureau chief was killed and she was named the bureau chief for itself. this was extraordinary. very few women were even in vietnam or in cambodia as full-time reporters, much less as a bureau chief but because of the culture of the time there was no press release. nobody wanted to point out that a woman was doing it and kate was as cautious as anybody else. it was rare for women to be doing what they're doing,
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they figured if they kept their profile low nobody would notice that they would get back and in those days most women in fact were still being relegated to the women's sections ofnewspapers . kate's luck ran out and in 1971 she was captured by the north vietnamese in cambodia. she was captured and held for 23 days and while she was held it was falsely reported that her body had been found and she was declared dead. her friends and family were obviously in morning and her sister of course didn't believe it. she held out all hope but while everybody was worried that kate was dead and in fact kate was undergoing a tremendous captivity. they had to eat exactly what the north vietnamese soldier
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which was bare-bones rice and rule and she walked a lot. she was sick, the medical care was awful. yet she still kept her sense of humor and they all managed to memorize a lot of what they saw and figure out how to take notes. i bought one of her best things from her memoir call on the other side, 23 days being held, is when it was like when she was interrogated by her north vietnamese captors who believed she was a spy. she was a woman, what was she doing on the road? here's how it goes. why did you choose that particular morning to go down highway 4, the north vietnamese asked. kate said i wish i had been away. on the other hand it's given me the firstopportunity of my life to meet you , the government. it was my job to see what was really happening.
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we find it unbelievable that you would go down the highway is very dangerous alone in your car just looking for the truth. she answered, that made it sound pretty silly. looking for a rare flower on the battlefield. everyone knows there no truth on the battlefield except getting killed, getting out alive and the unenviable in between of being maimed. sometimes i think my job is crazy myself she said wistfully. next slide. but she got out.she became a legend overnight. the australiancountry went crazy . every newspaper had headlines, kate live, kate is
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free. after she finished she flew back to sydney to be with her family for a short break and she and her, her brother who was a journalist at the time brought her to the all-male correspondence club in sydney and here she is taking great delight in being the first woman ever to have a drink at the correspondence club. she went on to continue her work and was in hong kong when i arrived. next slide please. through a mutual friend, kate met me at the airport to make sure i got on the right play and in my backpack i had frankie fitzgerald's book of course, fire on the lake and i literally was following in
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their footsteps but i was covering a different war. next slide please. this was cambodia. looks a lot different than the picture she took. these are monks. this is a different kind of buddhism and you had in vietnam and it was a more homogeneous in that sense. it was a country completely unprepared for war. it had been neutral throughout the vietnam war from 55 until 1970 when the war did break out. the previous ruler had tried to keep it neutral, playing one side i forget, finally they broke and as i said the american invasion started, the north vietnamese refused to leave and instead run out and by the time i got there, the war was frightening.
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it was legal. the paris peace supports had already been signed. and the american air force was free to bomb cambodia so i watched the bombing. i covered the bombing of cambodia and kate came back from hong kong to teach me a lot about the vote and so i literally lived kind of life that these women did. i came on my own, my one-way ticket, had to find a job. lives pretty poorly until after a few months i became the washington post stringer which is the contract report on the ground and newsweek. in those days there were very few full-time staff reporters in anglia. i think you can count them on one hand so washington post news needed someone like me. that's how i broke in. next slide please. this is one of those sad
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pictures that epitomizes a lot of the war. there was corruption in cambodia as well so the government army was replete with the young kids wearing sandals, who were poor pay grade, and like others, i went through stages of wondering if i could handle all the sexual harassment , wondered if i could turn the other cheek when it came to miss believing, wondering whether or not i was everything that was happening to me was, i could still prevail. i remember one of the worst things was when i did start to do well, some anonymous reporters wrote a parody about me on reuters stationery. where they more or less
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stated quite openly that the only reason i was doing well is because i was using my feminine wiles. not that that's part of the era i was in and the era that these women were in area next slide. >> these women came when the women's liberation was barely a movement back in the united states. if anybody showed that they actually believed there was institutional obstacles to women's advancement, then they made fun of you said you're looking for a crutch. that's the one theme i have in my whole book. they areoutsiders . these women rewrote the story of war.
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it's not because of x or y chromosomes. it's because they had fresh eyes, different ways of life and they expanded the conception of war. there was a more humane way to write it and especially to write about the countries where the warwas taking place . that's who they are and i look forward to yourquestions . thank you very much. >> thank you so much for the presentation. one thing i enjoy is seeing the photos and the texts because you give a flavor of how compelling and dramatic their coverage was. i think in a way, the story that you tell is really an extraordinary story and you're always so modest about what you've done but you really told for the first time a piece of history of women's, women in journalism. as you mentioned we all remember martha gilmore and a
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few big names. i myself worked in vietnam in the 1990s. i read tons of books about vietnam. by many of the journalists, that david help portions and i didn't know any of this all . so the story you're telling i think is phenomenal and important and makes a huge contribution. another thing that you convey so thoroughly in the book is the incredible trauma and stress that these women suffered from. but whole, the emotional and psychological toll it took on them and another thing i have known is how terrible the men workingthat . how jealous they were, how they tried to undermine them. i'll be tried to get him fired. we bought a lot of the male reporters were awful in the 90s but there are real
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villains in this book as well as heroines. i don't know how supportive kate foss was but the destruction that the male journalists and one of the other entertaining things book and the book is you talk about their love lives and personal relationships and some of the men that these women were involved with do not come off well. i won't maybe see who because people should read the book and another thing i wanted to add was that everybody i know who had gotten hold of the book has read it in about two days. i see people in the audience are not. >> ..
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and then of course there had to be catherine for photography. such outstanding women that a couple of people have asked about one person and another person but these three were outstanding. so then what were my source materials? i lucked out on this one. kate webb left everything to her
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sister and brother, and her sister was beside her all the way. she had a really tragic childhood and her parents were killed when she was 18 so her sister was family. this is tried everything in plastic bins in the storage unit. we flew, my husband and i flew to sydney and i spent lots of time with rachel, the sister, and i found stuff i said rachel, do you know what this is? she would say no. it was wonderful. fully cooperating. and then anything rachel and her brother jeremy, they were open. they wanted their sisters story told, every aspect. so the hardest stuff she never talked about a new her story needed to be told so that was wonderful. kate died in the early '60s and
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catherine had died about the same time in early 60s. she had no family to speak of. her mother died shortly afterwards so it was her friends, and god bless friends like this, who, other great photographer, great head of contact press i mentioned robert pledge, and david burnett, dominick, they collected money to make the foundation, the french foundation, and collected everything. her photographs and papers and everything. they were scattered to the winds. they are still discovering stuff. stuff. they made it all available to me and it wisely had done so video interviews of her contemporaries when she died so i was able to use those as well. then frankie is alive. she is an incredibly smart, astute, reserved woman, and she
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had early on given her papers to boston university. she gave them everything. i mean, it was a gold mine. she couldn't remember what she had given, and whenever i ran across something i didn't know and i'd ask your you a quee would answer. she has such a respect for history. she never steered me wrong. there was one point were either stuck because it was so boring writing a book, i mean, what is more boring than writing a book? going to the library, coming home. so i said didn't you have a boyfriend? she said yes, alan, the novelist. so i find alan and it's fabulous. suddenly that section is alive. a lot of it was that, but as i said it really helped that i knew the people they knew.
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i knew their friends. i did not go in cold at all. i came as an insider. sometimes i felt like the narrator who is just basically offscreen but knew what was going on, so that helped. does that answer your question? >> yes, thank you. here's an interesting question in the chat. she's asking when you learned more about the stories of these women, was this largely validating your experience with sexual, harassment and barriers, whether any surprises when you're researching the book? >> oh, yes. i was, the best example i think is catherine. she had it worse because she was a photographer in the field all the time. you couldn't be a war photographer without being in the field, and that was the greatest challenge the masculinity, to see this little,
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small woman just running circles around the men. this was supposed to be male territory. women are not supposed to be there. the head of the french press led a group of other journalists come most of them anonymous, a military spokesman who created what they called a black file, a military file to discredit her and take away our press credentials, which would've meant she would have to leave the country. they accused her of things like being course, being vulgar, being unwashed, being pushy, being arrogant. those are the general descriptions of any journalists, but they use that to take away her credentials, and it worked temporarily but she fought back. after that she was very determined to do well.
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i was shocked. i had never come even close to that, although then i remembered like one of my best friends in cambodia, the woman who helped bring me out there, because she was there, she wrote -- she did an investigation and wrote a piece about how the u.s. was illegally helping in the bombing of cambodia, and she was thrown out just like that. about a week or so later sydney of the near times wrote about essentially the same story, and nothing happened to him. oh, he wrote a great story come wonderful. so i was witnessing already the very different treatment of women and men, sometimes institutionally, sometimes professionally. >> lydia had a question next and she's having technical
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difficulties so i will speak for her. she said come hear you speak about the harassment women face then i see parallels to did it all the very different mediums today, studies are showing female reporters facing more harassment and social media. you see any lessons or advice from the brave woman to write about how reporters can comply with the current environment? >> i'm not very good at lessons, i have to say. i i left them out of the book. the one thing that was amazing, and i'll use kate, she pushed everything aside. she was a diplomat. she wanted to get her career. she could ignore stuff. she knew how to avoid the worst of the guys, and she thought she figured a way around all of this. but then it hit her like a a whammy right after the war when she should have been recovering
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from all all of the trauma,e ptsd. she was appointed to singapore, no fighting there. but instead of being able to continue her career, her boss demanded that she become his mistress. she refused and he filed a complaint on another charge, and she quit journalism. the obstacle that she thought she figured a way around, so she quit for ten years and didn't come back, and then when she did she joined a different a french press rather than upi. that's one lesson that kate learned. >> thank you. jada bolin will ask the next question. >> thank you so much, elizabeth. such a great talk. so reading through the book i was also really gripped by how
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much sexism as you discover the male colleagues, but when fitzgerald -- also well experienced in cambodia and ostrich ask yourself what were the ways if there were any that you took to try to take care of yourself and preserve your mental health and if you knew of anyways when in the book did that as well and if there's any way that they supported each other because the nature of the work they had to find individual manners of accomplishing that? >> we were not that conscious of what -- i mean, we didn't say we are going to xyz. it just happened. we lived it. we weren't thinking that way. what i found amazing was that all of us the trouble taking vacations. it's amazing we had a horrible time leaving the war because we were so dedicated to that story
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and to those countries, that we almost wrote the same words all of us. like i had to come back, i had to come back. and when you left because you couldn't -- at a couldn't take it anymore, it was very hard to get over it. i know i went to a therapist when i got home and to know the others didn't. i know that catherine wrote that she couldn't cross the street in pairs without flipping out, and is only what you got an assignment to go to new york to cover a music festival called woodstock that she could relax. she hung out with some veterans with her and i think that was sort of the beginning of her somewhat recovery, although it wasn't complete. we were not cognizant of all that. >> some of the men i worked with in vietnam are still suffered from ptsd us will physical injuries because of course journalists get shot at.
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i remember when i would come back, i never covered any war, thank god that our member whenever i would come back from leave in new york i would lie awake with my jet lag and think i can't do this, i'm not good enough, they're going to find out. i think it's really, for women to have an posture senate i just think they are lucky and that's how they got the job and actually can't do their job. self-doubt i think is a way we undermine ourselves sometimes. >> although i must say these three had a confidence level that i admired a lot. they just did not, did not falter ever. they kept pushing. that was not the problem, no. >> fantastic. i know you will call on her next person. >> allynn mcinerney. >> yes, thank you. it's been referenced a little
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today in our chat than curious there were certain sections from each of these three women, i think specifically speaking to the american cases where the women were not allowed to be what reporters, and then the make special exceptions and then they we invoke to that and to seem like they went back and forth a handful of times,, allowing women into were reporting, and that you're moving into the future if you have any insights on, did they use the system test cases? like, these women have proven that these women and others have proven that these laws don't make any sense, that this reporting is just as good if not better and more diverse than one fat in the past. how did those kind of rules inform the future landscape? >> after vietnam there's no more women. after vietnam women were forever on the battlefield.
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so that was over, to other countries a little bit longer but the next time the united states went to war was 1991 gulf war, and by then the women that arrived, they were staff correspondents. they had wages. health insurance. they had equipment. they didn't think they get the same access as men but they were full-time, civil war correspondents and that is remained. even australia dropped it. i think it took a while but all countries now allow women on the battlefield. the problem now is that the battlefield itself has become more dangerous for reporters, male or female. it's now possible in many respects that you could say that journalists are targets. look at the story of marie coleman. she was targeted and journalists
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are targeted and they are captured, kidnapped for ransom. they are killed. it's a different problem entirely, but after vietnam, those women didn't realize it but they effectively ended the ban on women in combat, but they didn't tell the story for 30 years. they kept it quiet because they were afraid it might be reimposed, and it was only 30 years when you did a collection of personal reminiscence in a lovely book called war-torn that they actually told the story. it was that scary it might be reimposed, but it wasn't. it was never reimposed. >> there's so many questions. i know we have two close at seven but as one drink how optimistic you feel about me to? do you think it's going to help
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change what you think it's sort of a flash in the pan? >> thank you, anya. it's inevitable. i mean, it's inevitable, it's like it reminds me of the beginning of the very stages of the women's movement where some serious work on getting rid of institutional barriers was reduced to, , oh, they are just burning bras, and the #me too movement is more than a hashtag. it's women do not, should not have to go through that sexual harassment in order to be the professionals or whatever that they want to be. there's no question it's serious. is it misused, et cetera, et cetera? i'm not going to get into that but it is essential. >> i think we all feel, we were
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talking about this in .. week, how important the #me too movement has been and i think when we talk about sexual harassment in the problems and abuse, journalist don't always like to talk about what they face but as people pointed out on this conversation, the harassment of journalists and black women and black women journalists is really very serious and that of course because of social media it can happen instantly different places as well. your book is also talk about a certain earlier version in some ways. >> no question. >> hanna just sent out -- >> i apologize, i don't have zoom on my phone but thank you so much for being here and for sharing with us and anya, for putting on this. this is wonderful.
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i'm curious from a war correspondents perspective how the vietnam war in so many ways was at this new company was a new kind of warfare. the united states was engaged to encompass new kind of journalism. there was photography and video of battles for the first time ever reaching a lot of people. shaping public opinion of the war. so today it's almost like with opposite problem in some ways. it's like if you look for it there's so much media coverage, there seems to be kind of, you can kind of the overwhelmed by the amount of content about some of the verbal things are going on in the world. i guess i'm wondering what you think from your perspective and the perspective of the journalists you covered, from them they cannot humanize these stories and sharing photos but what you think today needs to be done or do you think anything needs to be done to kind of
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continue to tell these stories in a new cutting age way, or just tell them that or include more voices or, i guess i'm just wondering what you think about the future of war correspondents? >> i have answer from a slightly different angle. one of the reasons the vietnam war was so well covered was because the american public was hungry for details. we were at war. whenever the united states was at war you get a lot of saturation coverage. now the wars are not. they are the forever wars, you don't see the americans fighting anymore. it's the iraqis who know we can keep track of who's fighting in syria. the russians were doing this and, you know, so one of the problems that you described of the scattered nature, you don't know where to find it, it's a
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fact that the americans are not the focus, and the united states is the kind of country what if it's not america, we are not interested. that's a general problem with all of our foreign coverage is that particularly the last four years of the trump administration, my goodness, it seemed like foreign news was lost. hopefully now with the biden administration there's breathing space that would you be more part of the world, but i think the problem we have is getting the american public and the american media, everybody to focus even when the united states is not the one fighting. that's the way i would phrase it. if that is helpful. >> thank you so much. >> do we have any final question? anya? >> nina alvarez from the journalism school is here and they've been a cosponsors i want
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to acknowledge nina and say thank you so much for coming and for putting this together. it's so important for journalists to feel that the journalism school is involved with their events, so it's really great that you are able to join and help promote this event. really fascinating discussion. again we have copies of this and all of you are welcome to drop by and pick one up. and really wanted to thank elizabeth becker and all the cosponsors and everyone for coming and for all the great questions. so congratulations again. you have fantastic reviews, lots and lots of attention and we just couldn't be happier about hosting you. thank you very much to everybody. >> thank you, anya. and tha
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>> good evening, everyone. i'm katy, the director of services for kansas city public library. thank you for joining us for a signature event, celebrating women's hit month, when women invented television with jennifer armstrong. i like my job at kcpl and i'm not their to reasonably think. do not read all day. reading is part of my job, and one of the best things about my job, but this tonight is the other best thing, might authors of book is love and hearing them talk about their books. if i had to trade jobs with anyone, i'd trade jobs with jennifer armstrong. she worked at my favorite magazine, entertainment weekly o

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