Lots of stuff goes out over the air waves in the dark of night when most
of us are sleeping peacefully. I keep a little radio at the head of my
bed with an earplug connected to it. Occasionally I wake up at odd
hours and stick the little plug in my ear to see what is going on. I
very seldom manage to stay awake more than a few minutes, but it is
really quite amazing what you learn in bits and pieces when you are
Art Bell is back on the all night shift. There are those who think he
was abducted by aliens and just released. Art is maintaining an
uncharacteristic silence on the matter.
The good news is that at 4 am week day mornings Morning Edition comes on
from National Public Radio.
There is usually more foreign news than we get on the commercial
networks. As I lie there warm and comfortable I think about those
foreign correspondents who are out there risking their lives in trouble
spots all over the world. Where do they live? What do they do when
there is no crisis (silly, there's always a crisis)? What do they do
for recreation? Do they have wives or husbands or children, and if so
where are they? Who are these correspondents as people?
My favorite reporter is Sylvia Poggioli who has been a foreign
correspondent for NPR Foreign Desk since 1982 and who probably has the
most beautiful speaking voice on radio and brains to match. Just
listening to her say her name makes the story worth while. A story from
Sarajevo? Sylvia was there. Or from Chechnya? Sylvia was there. Her
home base is Rome, but she covers most of eastern Europe and the Middle
Poggioli (the name doesn't look nearly as interesting in print as it
sounds when she says it ) reported the fall of communism in Eastern
Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, with
noteworthy coverage from Prague. In early 1991, she supplemented NPR's
Gulf War coverage, reporting from London on European reactions to events
surrounding the war.
Harvard educated, the daughter of Italian anti-fascists who were forced
to flee Italy under Mussolini, Poggioli was born in Providence, Rhode
When I hear that beautiful voice saying "This is Sylvia Poggioli" in the
wee hours of the morning I wait to see where she is this time and then
go back to sleep convinced that all is right with the world, at least
But what are these women doing flying all around the world and risking
their lives so we can understand what is going on?
A well known television foreign correspondent gives us a partial answer
to that. Christine Amanpour is CNN Chief International Correspondent.
In an article in Brill's Content Magazine she discusses the physical and
emotional cost of her chosen profession. She wonders whether anyone
realizes what it must be like to spend all your working life scared,
"scared of being shot, of being kidnapped, of being raped." She says
she has spent more time at the front than most normal military units.
She has started wondering why anyone would do it, because journalism has
changed. With the cold war over, she says, "media management seems to
behave as if it no longer has an obligation to cover the world" We
Americans are more interested in the Superbowl than in what is going on
She had thought she would never marry, but she finally did and now has a
five month old son. She imagines his fixing his large, innocent eyes on
her and asking, "Mummy, why are you going to those terrible places?
What if they kill you?" Her answer: "Because it matters, because the
world will care once we tell our stories. Because if the storytellers
don't do this, then the bad people will win."
I hope Christiane will be in the cheering section at her son's
graduation from college, and I hope I can go to sleep for a long time
to come to "This is Sylvia Poggioli from Rome - or Athens - or Kabol -