Six things we learned from Robert Fisk
Meet the man who interviewed Osama Bin Laden three times
He interviewed Osama Bin Laden three times, covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is a bestselling author. On Monday, award-winning journalist and author Robert Fisk was in Hamilton as part of a country-wide speaking tour sponsored by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East. As the foreign correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent for over 30 years, Fisk has become an expert on Middle Eastern affairs. Fisk is also the author of several books and has won the British Press Awards' International Journalist of the Year seven times.
Fisk stopped by the CBC Hamilton office before his talk for a chat. As a correspondent who's covered the Middle East for three decades, he's seen first hand the evolutions and revolutions, but he said we don't always get the full picture in Western society.
One example: Western media's use of the term 'collateral damage' when referring to unintentional deaths during conflict in the Middle East.
"Collateral damage to me is usually seeing children in bits being brought into hospital," he said. "Collateral damage is a sick, obsessive, poisonous phrase to be using. What we mean is killing the innocent."
On the flip side, when Westerners are killed in conflict, such as at the recent hostage situation in Algeria, Western governments and media are appalled, he said.
"One of the reasons why I think people have gone from reading mainstream newspapers to the internet is because they realize they're being lied to."
He admitted, though, there are limitations to reporting on conflicts and said it's not effective to include 20 years of history in any story. Rather, he suggests those who really want to be informed should read books and, especially, go to visit countries and talk to people on the ground.
"Get a cheap air ticket and fly and look at the place. I'm not recommending holidays in Syria or Mali, but it's very easy to get on a plane out of Pearson and actually go and have a look," he said.
"You don't have to read the paper; you become the reporter."