by IIJ Ambassador, Assistant Professor, & Director of IIJ
The Institute for International Journalism (IIJ) welcomed to campus, international correspondent Bec Hamilton on March 1, 2011 to address students and faculty about the state of affairs in Sudan. Hamilton works as a special correspondent on Sudan for The Washington Post. Most recently, she returned from a one-month stay in Sudan covering the referendum. With approximately 98.5 percent of the population voting, the referendum resulted in the formation of a new state, Southern Sudan.
“I’ve never had the experience of observing first-hand history in the making. And that’s exactly what that was last month,” said Hamilton in an interview on Tuesday. “Overall, there was just the incredible sense of exuberance and excitement around that moment. It happened so peacefully, successfully. That far exceeded anyone’s predictions.”
Hamilton has been in and out of Sudan in the last seven years, reporting on the political climate of the country and conducting interviews for her book, Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide. In that captivating book, she investigates foreign policy on the Darfur region and the effects of the public outcry by Americans. She became interested in Sudan and the Darfur region while studying public policy at Harvard Law School.
Hamilton spoke to journalism classes on Tuesday and Wednesday about the positive and negative implications of being a foreign correspondent. She provided practical advice to aspiring international correspondents, and she critiqued the changing media model. In her address to the Foreign Correspondence class, Hamilton expressed the need for foreign correspondents and also the expectations that the media places on correspondents. With the new media model, Hamilton said, journalists must be a one-man show – writing, taking photographs and shooting footage. She also said that along with the new age of media and the increased lack of funding, journalists must work harder to provide a context for the story and relate the story to the audience.
In her keynote lecture, Hamilton provided an overview of the political situation in Sudan and the problems that need to be addressed before Southern Sudan officially becomes its own nation on July 9. These issues include oil maintenance, national debt, citizenship, internal problems in the south, the new government and lack of press coverage in the marginalized regions such as Darfur.
As a part of an educational outreach component of Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Hamilton said she is able to travel to institutions to speak about international journalism, life as a foreign correspondent and to “build up an appetite for those [international] stories in the general U.S. population.”
By Rachel Ferchak, IIJ Web Master