Bronner to Lecture on Reporting on the Front Lines
by Jim Amidon
October 1, 2004
Get directions to Wabash College Fine Arts Center
Each time I drive on highway 36 through Parke County, I notice the signs
that read “Ernie Pyle Memorial Highway.” I’ve been to Dana, Indiana to
see Pyle’s home and the museum of his memorabilia housed there.
Pyle was the legendary war correspondent whose words—more like
poetry—let Americans feel what it was like to work, live, and die on the
front lines in war time. Pyle himself was a war casualty.
Today the media has changed. People like Pyle simply do not exist and
front lines’ reporting is nothing at all like it was in his day. War
reporting today is more political and less personal. It’s easy to forget
about the realities of a nation at war half a globe away.
Pyle wouldn’t let us forget the faces and names; but his breed of
journalism died when he did.
The closest we may have come to Pyle’s style in modern times was David
Bloom’s ride to Baghdad in the “Bloom-mobile.” Bloom, an NBC Today Show
morning host, made the war personal. His reporting was filled with
blowing sand, dirt, blood, and tragedy. Like Pyle, Bloom was himself a
casualty of war; he died en route to Baghdad.
I really like the personal side of reporting news. That’s probably why I
write a weekly column for this paper and earn a living in public
relations. I can tell the Wabash story as I see it; through my eyes,
ears, and gut.
But I do wonder what it’s really like on the front lines. To report on
such a politically charged conflict like we have in Iraq would be both
exhilarating and frustrating.
This Wednesday, I’ll have the opportunity to meet a reporter who has
spent the last several years covering the Middle East when Ethan Bronner
of the New York Times pays a visit to Crawfordsville.
I hope you, too, will plan to attend his public lecture in the Fine Arts
Center Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. There is no charge for admission,
and based on the title of his talk—“Covering the News in the Middle
East: Dilemmas of an American Journalist”—it’s sure to be thought
Regardless of what you think about the New York Times, make it a
point to listen to Bronner’s lecture. I sense he’ll tell us what it’s
really like over there; there are no senior managing editors on hand to
edit his lecture! I imagine he’ll be open for questions after the talk.
Bronner has been around the block, too. He began with the very respected
Reuters news service in 1980, working in Jerusalem, London, Madrid, and
Brussels. Later he spent 13 years with the Boston Globe, covering
a range of stories from the Supreme Court in Washington to Middle East
politics from Jerusalem.
In 1997, Bronner began writing about education for the New York Times
. That’s when I began to follow his byline with hopes that I might some day
convince him to take a trip to Crawfordsville to investigate a unique
college for men called Wabash.
He never took the bait, and in 2001 he became an editor in the paper’s
investigative unit, focusing on the terrorist attacks of September 11. A
series of articles he helped edit won a 2001 Pulitzer Prize.
After a couple of years as assistant editor of the editorial page
focusing on foreign affairs and law, Bronner assumed his current post as
deputy foreign editor of the New York Times.
Guys like Ernie Pyle don’t exist these days, and I think it’s too bad.
But I am thrilled that Wabash will host Ethan Bronner for his take on
the issues in the Middle East and the difficulty in reporting on them.
Come listen and learn, question and debate. It’s not often we have such
a rich opportunity so close to home. Don’t miss it.