War reporter who wrote the book

FOR someone whose critical coverage of war and international relations is recognised worldwide, Megan Stack’s modesty comes as quite a surprise.

The American journalist arrived in Byron Bay yesterday for the writers’ festival, where she will feature invarious programs over the weekend.

Ms Stack was thrown into war reporting as soon as the World Trade Centre was attacked and the hysteria surrounding the War on Terror began in 2001.

Since then the 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist has covered conflicts in 22 countries including Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon and is now based in China as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

Asked how she came to terms with constantly working in emotional and war-torn environments, she said: “I wrote a book.

“The motivation for writing a book was the feeling that I could say a lot of things I wanted to say that I could not in news stories.

“The deeper impressions of situations and people I left behind in the regions were the things I could not write about in the newspaper, because they were not newsy.

“I think all of the wars affected me in different ways, but the most emotional one for me was the war in Lebanon in 2006. I think it is to do with all the time I had spent there prior to the war and the fact I knew it differently.

“With Iraq and Afghanistan I had never been there prior to war, so all I knew there was war.”

Her book, Every Man in This Village is a Liar: An education in war, was released last month and will be one of the topics Ms Stack will be discussing at the writers’ festival.

Many of the countries Ms Stack has reported on have a strong sense of Islamic nationalism that includes the presence of gender inequality. But the award-winning journalist said this had not stopped females dominating what once was a male-dominated industry.

“It is not as bad as you think,” she said.

“Women as foreign correspondents really started in the 1970s and ’80s, and particularly with my generation.

“It is very different as I have a lot of close friends who have been writers and photographers in the field.

“What is true is the countries with war, they are heavily male dominated and you do feel that.”

Megan Stack will be in a Key Conversation session with Kerry O’Brien today at 11.30am.

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