Kelly McEvers Explores the Dilemma of a Foreign Correspondent

By Kelly McEvers | July 01, 2013 | Syria

Kelly McEvers, a freelance correspondent for National Public Radio based in Beirut, Lebanon, reported from Russia as an IRP Fellow in Spring 2006. During that time, she was detained and interrogated in the republic of Dagestan in Russia’s troubled south, and reported on her experience.

McEvers's recent documentary, “Diary of a Bad Year: A War Correspondent’s Dilemma,” explores the dangerous nature of work as a foreign correspondent, and presents the question, “Why do otherwise intelligent people risk their lives when they don’t have to?”

The documentary is the product of a year-long audio diary in which McEvers spoke with fellow conflict journalists about how they continue their work in the face of imminent danger and if they believed they could stop if they wanted to. She gathers insights from a long list of colleagues, including Sebastian Junger, Jon Lee Anderson, and Christiane Amanpour. In a Transom piece reflecting on the documentary, McEvers discusses her inspiration for the project, her most difficult interviews, and lessons learned. "Making this story has totally altered the way I look at what I and most of my friends do for a living," McEvers notes. "It was hard, it was personal, but I think it was worth it."

In a 2012 interview with Fall 2010 IRP Fellow Julia Barton for Nieman Storyboard, McEvers explains how her work as an IRP Fellow in Russia and detention in Dagestan helped form her identity as a conflict journalist. The experience did not deter her from seeking out positions in conflict situations, but instead fostered a senstitivity that has shaped her interviews with victims of conflict ever since. As McEvers explains, “I think I’m able to empathize a lot more with people because I have been through some of this stuff." Kelly McEvers continues to report from areas in crisis and is currently covering the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Stephanie Mulhern is a communications assistant with the International Reporting Project (IRP).

View All Posts By

View All Posts By Kelly McEvers

Your donation helps continue the IRP's work to inform the public about international issues.

Make A Gift

Are you a Journalist?

Apply for a fellowship trip or a gatekeeper trip