Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Shadid discussed his personal experiences covering the uprisings in the Middle East with an audience of nearly 400 people at the University of Central Florida on Thursday. He also made other presentations on and off campus.
Shadid, the former Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, has been a foreign correspondent for The New York Times since December 2009. During his presentation, organized by the UCF Global Perspectives Office, Shadid jumped among first-person tales from the frontlines in Egypt, Libya and Syria, and musings on the Middle East’s history.
Shadid painted a picture of what individuals are going through in the midst of Arab revolutions, and noted that he dislikes the term “Arab Spring,” a popular reference to the region’s upheaval.
He said the revolutions are unprecedented in their transnational nature and that they are a product of globalization. For the first time, he said, they cross both physical and mental borders between countries due to youth-driven social media.
Shadid then spoke of the brutal days in March he spent as a prisoner of government soldiers in Libya. He contrasted that with a story of the enthusiastic spirit and new found sense of self he saw in the youth that gather in Syria’s streets by night. The Syrian people, he said, have passed the point of no return in their uprisings. They “have already liberated themselves,” he said, because there is “no more fear of the regime.”
When asked a question about journalistic objectivity, Shadid responded that he doesn’t believe in it. While he stressed the importance of being fair, he said objectivity is used as an excuse to remove justice and righteousness from stories. If a journalist sees and experiences brutality from the government, he said, the journalist owes it to his or her readers to convey it; anything else leads to misunderstanding.
Although Shadid acknowledged that there will be danger, volatility and uncertainty in the Middle East and North Africa for the foreseeable future, he contends that there is reason for optimism. In the long term, according to Shadid, the region will benefit from the political changes that are taking place today.
Along with the Global Perspectives Office, sponsors and partners of Shadid’ s presentation included the UCF Global Peace and Security Studies Program, the Sibille H. Pritchard Global Peace Fellowship Program, Lawrence J. Chastang and the Chastang Foundation, the UCF Nicholson School of Communication, the Orlando Area Committee on Foreign Relations, LarsonAllen LLP, the UCF Islamic Studies Program, the UCF Diplomacy Studies Program, the UCF Middle Eastern Studies Program, the UCF Political Science Department, the UCF International Services Center, the UCF Book Festival 2012 in association with the Morgridge International Reading Center, UCF LIFE and the Global Connections Foundation.
For a full list of upcoming events or to learn more about the Global Perspectives Office, visit http://ucfglobalperspectives.org.