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Arts, Sports & Culture

Filming and Reporting in a War Zone

Justin Merriman

Kalpana Biswas, filmmaker and Board Chairperson of Women in Film and Media Pittsburgh, decided to make a film about women and children in Afghanistan, but she had no experience when it came to filming in an area of conflict.

This led her to ask journalists in the Pittsburgh area for advice on how to prepare. One of the major questions that she asked was, “How do I go through filming without endangering myself?”

One of the local journalists she asked for advice was Pittsburgh Tribune Review Photojournalist Justin Merriman who notes that the job is dangerous, and there is no real training to prepare for this kind of a trip. A reporter in an area of conflict needs to know when it's appropriate to step back and when to be involved in the action.

Another local contact Lynda Schuster, former Wall Street Journal foreign reporter and Christian Science Monitor South Africa Bureau Chief, wanted to be a foreign correspondent, but she did not want to cover war. Throughout her career as a reporter, Schuster felt like being a woman gave her an advantage.

“I could always get interviews that my male counterparts couldn’t.”

But she also found it hard to be taken seriously once got an interview.

These reporters have developed careers on the front lines of war and Biswas brings a panel of those Pittsburgh journalists to the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall in Oakland on October 24 at 6 PM.