If you listen to no other podcast this year…

Stephanie Nolen - graphic adapted from a Toronto Life photograph by Hannelie Coetzee

Stephanie Nolen - graphic adapted from a Toronto Life photograph by Hannelie Coetzee

… you have to listen to Stephanie Nolen’s speech for the 2010 Dalton Camp Lecture in Journalism.

If you’re a student of journalism, it’s basically a moral obligation.

Last night I finally tuned in as I lay in the darkness of my room. To be honest, I could barely keep  my chest from heaving, and I had to press on my eyes to stop the tears.

This woman astonishes me, and her speech — like much of her harrowing prose — pushes my empathic capacity to its limits. She has seen things I cannot fathom, and conjures up emotions in me that I can not describe.

Yes, it was difficult to hear and shaming at times, but I can’t believe I waited this long to slow down and digest this speech. If you’re also late in listening (the talk came out in late November), don’t worry: it’s timeless, and you can and should listen now.

But don’t stop there.

Despite her skepticism with view to journalism’s new bells and whistles, Stephanie Nolen’s work is easier to share than ever before.

One of the her most powerful pieces, for me, is Rwanda: Surviving Rape (April 2004).

I can’t even bring myself to include excerpts, as I normally do, because this is long-form at its finest, and I urge you to commit to it.

Ms. Nolen often leaves me profoundly unsettled, but we need more of that in this desensitized society. She seems to have no sympathy for the Western sensitivities, and will not coddle her readers by leaving out the most nauseating details.

The young intern version of Ms. Nolen — notes one Toronto Life profile — said she got into journalism to “change the world.”

She wasn’t being precious.

“Citizenship is a tough occupation which obliges the citizen to make his own informed opinion and stand by it.” – Martha Gellhorn (Stephanie Nolen’s “patron saint”)

Screen grab from the CBC website. Click the image to go to the original.

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3 thoughts on “If you listen to no other podcast this year…

  1. Pingback: How sensitive can a journalist be? « The Fab Files

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