Marie, Marie Colvin, Lindsey Hilsum discussed on Weekend Edition Sunday


This is weekend. Addition from NPR news. I'm Lulu Garcia Varo, many journalists claimed the title war correspondent, but few have really deserved it as much as Marie Colin. Kovin was a journalism legend a fearless American reporter who wrote for the British paper the Sunday Times she was unmistakable in war zones. She sported ni- patch to cover up an I injured in a grenade attack while she was reporting during the Sri Lankan, civil war. And she was always far ahead of the pack. Kovin didn't just cover conflicts. She lived them writing vivid dispatches from places few western correspondents would go Chechnya east team more, and so many other places and ultimately Syria. This is one of her last interviews given to the BBC while she was in the besieged town of homes in two thousand twelve I watched a little baby died today. Absolately horrific just a two year old then hit they stripped and foundation Trump no had gone into the left chest. And he the doctor just said. I can't do anything is a little tummy just kept heating until he died shortly. After this interview on February twenty seconds. She would be killed along with French photographer Remi automatic after the Syrian government Sheldon media center, where they were staying her story is being told in new book by Lindsey Hilsum herself, an award-winning journalist for the British channel four news and recall, wtn's, friend. It's called extremists the life and death of war. Correspondent Marie Colvin. Lindsey hilsum. Welcome to the program. It's great to be here leading you can hear in that interview in homes. Marie cared. So much about the subject. She would report on we'll get to her death in a moment. But this book is about her life. She grew up in a small town Strabane on Long Island with the middle class sort of stable family. A lot of the book is based on our own journals are her observations as a teenager, then a college student. She was driven and curious and passionate, even then she absolutely was in one of the joys of writing. This book is Murray's dire is one of the things. I I enjoyed with her. Her family when incredibly generous, and I went down into the basement, and there are all these papers. And I found this little white plastic covered. Child's dial which was locked with one of those tiny meetings. And I couldn't find the key. And so I had to slice it open. And there it was MAURICE first Darrien when she says, she writes, very simply to church, wore mini, the mother and the father. No like. And I go I think I can see the woman I knew in that naughty girl. And then when she was at Yale. She did a class with John Hersi famous American Janice wrote, a great book Hiroshima, and when she came out of that class, she said to her her best friend. That's what I want to do. I want to tell the really big stories by telling them through the stories of the individuals, the victims of war, and that was what she she sets out to do. Yeah. She was fearless. But she saw humanity everywhere as you say, but what really made a famous was her unrelenting quest to tell the stories of the people in hard to get places who were sort of the victims were or going through something terrible. She experienced their lives and didn't keep that detachment that American journalism is so fond of that's right. And in that way, journalism was quite controversial that she didn't go in in the way that some journalists have the right or left ju ju paint by numbers journalism. You know, find the facts that fit the story she was actually remarkably unideological, but she certainly had a big thing for the underdog whether the underdog with the children and the women being bombed in the shelter or the conscripts who didn't really know what they were fighting for or people who had rebelled against the government's. So she certainly identified some would say over identified with them. And I think that what distinguished her her writing. And her journalism was that she she went. In further, and she stayed longer. And that meant that she got those stories that other people didn't get. Yeah. I knew Marie in the field. The last time I saw her we were in Tripoli, and we were climbing into a compound owned by one of Kadhafi's sons, and she led the charge. She was inexhaustible. We were actually going to give up and try the next morning. And she was basically like forget that accepted. I think it was more pointed expletive, and she wrangled someone to bring a ladder. And we were the first group in see this sort of crazy paranoid world of underground bunkers and lavish living that is the last time. I saw her. She was an icon of this kind of journalism. I think that's such a great memory to have of her because that was exactly what she was like just like come on. Let's go for it. And it came at a cost though, this part is quite resonant to me you describe the parties in the and the friends that she had and how much she was loved. But there was the post traumatic stress disorder the things that come along with covering conflicts the personal toll it takes. Absolutely. And when she first lost the size in her eye. This amazing piece which I quit what she wrote. I didn't have a punishment for very good about how she now have different codes vision of has south no longer marriage with who she thought she wasn't who she might now be. And then somebody else will we to why are you worrying about that? And she was like, well, you know, I was concentrating on the outside because it was something dark within two to look at and she had nightmares and particularly after anchor nightmare which would come back again. And again, which was you would wake up just before the moment where she was shot and those nightmares just wouldn't wouldn't go away. And she drank too much as many journalists do and in the end, she crash at one point in the book, you write Maria was easy to love and hard to help. Do you think she should have quit? Look, I I should have should've should've how could you say that to Marie unit. Marie. I think. She defined herself by the work that she did. And she believed in the what she did. She was committed to being an eyewitness to war and telling the story of people who go through it. I mean, the book is called in extremist because of something she write she wrote. It's always seemed to me that wash. I write about his humanity in extremists pushed to the uninsurable. And that it is important to tell people what really happens in wars. But of course, she lived her own life in extremists to he had a very turbulent personal life. And so I can't really say what she should have done. I've just come to understand something of who. She was Marie was killed by brutal despotic regime that is still in place, but that regime with Mary's death wanted to send a message that sort of shining. A light would not be tolerated. I couldn't help. But think while I was reading this book about this moment where journalists in this country are being called the enemy of the p. People by the president of the United States. What do you think she would make of this moment for journalists right now? I think she'd be absolutely horrified. She grew up in an American culture off, the the Pentagon papers and Watergate, and so on where journalists was seen as a noble profession and telling stories of what was going on in the world. And that was a tradition which she came from. What do you want people to take away from her life story? I mean, this is a moment where for news gets fewer and fewer pages and airtime, and where people are looking much more inwards to the conflicts within their own country. What I hope that they will take away the importance of being the unstandable what's going on and reporting these stories, and if knowing that even if it's not obvious what should be done e miss never get to a situation where they can turn round and say, oh, we didn't know what was. Going on. Yes. You knew because we told you Marie told you the other thing is that if a life, which was extraordinary and a woman he was extraordinarily, and yes, she was traumatized, and yes, she died in this way. But boy was she a character. And I guess, you know, if I want to be sentimental America should be proud that it produced a journalist and a women like Marie Colvin. Indeed, Lindsey Hilsum is an award winning journalist herself with channel four news. And her book is in extremis. Thank you so much. It's my pleasure. Really? And tomorrow.

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