Magazine article Nieman Reports

Dexter Filkins, Veteran War Correspondent, Delivers Morris Lecture

Magazine article Nieman Reports

Dexter Filkins, Veteran War Correspondent, Delivers Morris Lecture

Article excerpt

Dexter Filkins, NF '07, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade, offered his perspective on the region's past and future during the 30th annum Joe Alex Morris, Jr. Memorial Lecture at the Nieman Foundation on February 3rd.

"If I've learned anything over the past--I can't believe it's 10 years--covering these two American wars ... [it's that] the truth is there and it's to be found, and you can find it," he said. Yet the challenge of reporting in such chaotic and deadly places is huge.

Filkins said metaphors can help convey what it's like. One war correspondent he knows compares the job to putting together a puzzle when a lot of the pieces are missing; another said it is like trying to identify shapes looming in the distance during a blizzard. Filkins said the metaphor he prefers is that of a kaleidoscope. "It was all these pieces of colored glass swirling around and just when you thought 'I think I know something,' all the glass would rearrange itself again. There was never any moment when you could sit back and say 'I finally understand this place,'" he said.

Filkins, who joined The New York Times in 2000, left the paper this past December to become a staff writer for The New Yorker. In his 2008 book, "The Forever War," he told the stories that he most vividly remembered, the ones he would share with friends when they asked what it was like over there.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

He barely recognized Iraq when he returned in 2008, two years after he left. …

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