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Journalists, Soldiers Talk About Covering the Long War, Oct. 26

October 23, 2006 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Veteran journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran and veteran soldier Lieutenant General David Petraeus will open a conference for military reporters and editors Thursday, Oct. 26, to Saturday, Oct. 28, at Northwestern University's Medill School. Called “Covering the Long War at Home and Abroad,” the Evanston campus event is open to journalists who wish to cover or attend as well as to students and the general public.

Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor and former Baghdad Bureau Chief Chandrasekaran and Lt. General Petraeus, who commanded the 101st Airborne in Iraq and later was responsible for training its first post-Saddam army, will discuss the Iraq war and its press coverage at Thursday's (Oct. 26) kickoff reception from 7 to 10 p.m.

The conference will include sessions for print and TV reporters covering the military, including local National Guard and Reservists. Sessions for seasoned veterans on covering military justice, using computers to dig up defense stories will take place, as will as discussions of events in Baghdad and Kabul from reporters who have been there.

Friday (Oct. 27), photographers from around the nation will meet in special sessions with some of the best photojournalists in the business. Among them is Rocky Mountain News photographer Todd Heisler, whose “Final Salute” project chronicled fallen Marines, earning him the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography. Other Friday sessions will include Washington Post's Chandrasekaran and Stars and Stripes' Anita Powell in a session called “Bagdad Blues: Cheating Death While Finding the Story.”

Retired Major General David Grange, president and chief executive officer of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, will give the keynote address. A veteran of Vietnam and Bosnia, he commanded a company during the aborted raid that attempted to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran, an infantry battalion in Korea and special operations task force during Desert Storm. He is a frequent CNN commentator.

Saturday (Oct. 28) the conference will close with a brainstorming session on ways to improve the embedding process and a session called “Military 101,” which will provide the ABCs of reporting on America's armed forces.

An optional Thursday “Reporting Expedition” from 4 a.m. (that's right!) to 1 p.m. will take participants to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center to observe and report on the final hours of Navy boot camp as trainees complete the difficult and challenging “Battle Stations” scenario, the last step before becoming a sailor. Participants will have an opportunity to interview recruits and recent trainees from their own state or hometown.

Thursday and Saturday sessions will be held at Medill's McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Drive, on Northwestern's Evanston campus. Friday's events will be in the Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston. For a complete schedule, visit www.militaryreporters.org. For information, e-mail m-pendleton@northwestern.edu or call (202) 661-0141. Media coverage is welcome. To register as a participant but not to cover the event, the cost is $125 (but can be reduced by joining Military Reporters and Editors, Inc.). Northwestern students are welcome free of charge with student ID.

Topics: Campus Life