Christiane Amanpour, an international correspondent for CNN and ABC News, knew Marie Colvin, a former war correspondent who grew up on Long Island—the two worked extensively to secure an exclusive interview with the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli two years ago. That was the last time Amanpour saw Colvin before she was killed in Homs, Syria, last February.
Amanpour opened the Marie Colvin Distinguished Lecture Series on Tuesday, Feb. 5 by announcing her donation of $50,000 to the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting to a packed audience of faculty, students and community members at the Stony Brook University Student Activity Center auditorium.
“Marie was one of those rare journalists who believed in telling the human story of war,” Amanpour said. “She also believed in mentoring young journalists, helping them discover that being a foreign correspondent can be the most noble and vital calling.”
According to the Marie Colvin Center website, SBU’s School of Journalism aims to foster the next generation of international reporters through the center in honor of Colvin with overseas reporting trips and a journalist-in-residence fellowship.
“Christiane gave us two powerful gifts,” Howard Schneider, dean of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism, said. “A significant financial contribution and an inspiring message to our students about why they should devote their lives to journalism, even risk their lives for journalism.”
Amanpour said she was able to work alongside Colvin several times and was inspired by her work ethic.
“We have to be there,” Amanpour said. “There is no substitute for eyewitness news.”
Amanpour said that Colvin’s work and other foreign reporting has impacted the view of global politics, such as the Arab Spring.
“To hear leaders say we can’t intervene [or] we can’t make a difference—they’re wrong,” Amanpour said regarding the current civil war in Syria.
To the young journalists in the audience, Amanpour said that it is necessary “to be brave enough to stand up and tell the truth” to hold the nation’s leaders accountable for their actions.
Amanpour added, jokingly, that reporting “is not the job you take if you want to be liked” because “the people we report on don’t like it.” However, she also said that it is not the role of a journalist to make the audience or government officials comfortable.
“It’s not the fear of being banned,” Amanpour said. “It’s the fear of not asking the right question that keeps me up at night.”
Amanpour said she had learned from Colvin “to stay happy and proud to make a difference” while reporting out in the field. She added that surrounding herself with family and friends helps her stay happy even in undesirable and difficult conditions.
“Apart from anything else, the journey is really a lot of fun,” Amanpour said.