NPR correspondent speaks in Aspen
ASPEN Perhaps the hardest part of Lourdes Garcia-Navarro’s job as a correspondent for National Public Radio is getting fresh stories from places like Iraq, from where she recently returned. “It’s a constant struggle,” she said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “It’s very difficult to do light features in Baghdad. It’s death and destruction every day. It’s very easy to tell the story about pain, misery and suffering. “But to make people connect with a story is the most difficult thing.”
Garcia-Navarro will appear Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Hotel Jerome, with NPR Senior Foreign Editor Loren Jenkins, to speak about her experiences in Jerusalem and Baghdad. The cost for the event, which is sponsored by Aspen Public Radio, is $10.It was only a few months out of journalism school that Garcia-Navarro jumped into conflict reporting when The Associated Press sent her to Kosovo. Never staying in one place for long, she traveled Europe freelancing, moved to Columbia, covered the second intifada in Israel, and the war in Afghanistan. She is now based in Mexico City. “The reason one covers conflicts is because they are important,” she said. “They show the best and worst of humanity. Those of us who feel the calling have a duty to go here.”Garcia-Navarro said there’s a certain thrill to covering conflicts and wars.
“There’s no question that you feel you are in the middle of where events are happening and you form a close connection with people,” she said. But that’s not what it’s all about. “It’s not being an adrenaline junky for the sake of being an adrenaline junky,” she said. “When I go to Iraq, I don’t like it. If we don’t do it, who will?”
For Garcia-Navarro, there isn’t really a question about whether the risk of danger is worth it. She said there is a need to be careful and not take unnecessary risks, but telling the story is very important. “I’ve seen a lot of journalists I know be killed or maimed,” she said. “If we don’t tell the story someone else has to. We’re just putting ourselves in the same position as many locals. We are targets. You have to be extremely careful. It’s an odd sensation. In other conflicts journalists are not a target in that way. They don’t see us anymore as impartial observers or impartial storytellers.”NPR does not house reporters in the green zone and when Garcia-Navarro goes out in Baghdad, she does so without an armed guard. That makes it more dangerous, but it also means she has access to a different Baghdad, further from U.S. troops. She said she further gets added access by being a woman. Though it might seem that being a woman in an Islamic country could be a hindrance, Garcia-Navarro said it can be a major advantage because she is allowed to speak with other women. That, she said, is why there are so many women reporters covering the war.