Teaching International Journalism, part 7 -- Books and Films to Educate and Inspire

Five Literary Author Journalists

I believe anything written by the late Polish roving reporter Ryszard Kapuściński is well worth it, even if he has been accused of literary embellishment, and theorizing too much, and not always accurately. One of his more popular works is The Soccer War.

I would also recommend anything by V.S. Naipaul, who went on trips for book reporting, and warned years before anyone else of the rise of extremist Islam.

A third author I would add is cartoonist Joe Sacco, who takes you through his reporting journey and tells more truths with his drawings than most journalists do with their words. Fixer goes behind the scenes with those who help journalists on their perilous journeys.

A fourth author I would recommend is Frenchman Jean Hatzfeld, who dedicated himself to genocide prevention and research after witnessing the horrors of Rwanda. Machete Season in the words of the victims and perpetrators is particularly searing.

One completely in the ranks of literature, much more light-hearted and often cited is Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh.

15 Foreign Reporter Personal Journeys Books

Another popular genre is the one journey / one event / one assignment / one cathartic existential reporter's journal. My personal favorite in this category is Out of America, A Black Man Confronts Africa, by Keith Richburg.

Here is one by a stringer, not a highly paid correspondent, but a journalist who really had to work to survive in the Congo, Stringer by Anjan Sundaram.

Staying in the Congo, Michela Wong wrote the superb In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz, as the review says ... "the beauty of this book is that it makes sense of chaos."

Dispatches, by Michael Herr, one of the top Vietnam war correspondents, is often cited.

Chasing Che, by Patrick Symmes, retraces Che Guevara's revolutionary path.

My War Gone By, I Miss It So, by Anthony Loyd, shows some of the horrors of Yugoslavia's breakup.

Chris Ayres in War Reporting for Cowards tells the story of a very nervous young journalist going the embed rout with Marines in Iraq.

The Big Truck That Went By by Jonathan Katz is about failed relief efforts after the earthquake in Haiti.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, by Ashley Gilbertson, goes inside the photographer's mind as he takes very original and gritty pictures of the Iraq conflict. Here's a very interesting review of his pictorial book.

Shutterbabe by Deborah Copaken Kogan tells the story of a female photographer in a war zone and messy relationships.

"Samba" by Alma Guillermoprieto has the journalist learning the "sensuous song and dance" ritual in a village near Rio.

The Wolf and the Watchman by Scott Johnson is about a journalist covering war zones while his father is a top spy for the CIA.

The Butterfly Mind by Patrick Brown has a longtime foreign correspondent facing up to his alcoholism while recounting being on the frontlines and writing the first drafts of history over the past three decades.

Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran by Roxana Saberi has a fortunate ending, while A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl has a horrible one. I used to work with Mariane Pearl, before her late husband became the "poster child" of the dangers of reporting from extremist enclaves. After Daniel Pearl, our innocence as journalists, for my generation at least, was lost.

10 Documentaries

Control Room (2004, Full Movie below)

Live from Baghdad (2002, Full Movie)

10 Fictional Films

Self-Help and Theoretical Books

My "bible" before becoming an international freelance journalist was World on a String, which has recently been reissued in Kindle version for just $8.

Here's a good theoretical primer on conflict reporting, and one on the history of foreign correspondence in general. Here's a collection of essays on international journalism, and here's a textbook, if that's your thing. Here are tips if you want to eventually write a book about your own foreign reporting experiences.

If you enjoyed this lesson plan, here are all the chapters in My Guide to Teaching International Freelance Journalism.

Part 1, Geographies


Part 2, A Brief History Until Today


Part 3, Before You Go


Part 4, Potential Clients


Part 5, When You First Arrive


Part 6, Surviving the Game


Part 7, Books and Films To Educate and Inspire


Part 8, Perceptions


Part 9, Ethical Considerations


Part 10, Migrations and the Other


Part 11, Going Glocal


Part 12, Musings, Behind the Scenes and Critiques


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