Outside Voices: Siobhan Darrow On The Value Of Storytelling

CBS News (New York City, NY), December 15, 2006


Each week we invite someone from outside CBS Public EyE to weigh in with their thoughts about CBS News and the media at large. This week, we turned to Siobhan Darrow, a former CNN correspondent and author of the 2002 book, Flirting with Danger: Confessions of a Reluctant War Reporter.

Siobhan Darrow writes:

My life has changed a bit since my days as a war correspondent for CNN, back in the 1990s. I still find myself embroiled in conflict. Only now, instead of being on the front lines of a war, I am usually still in my pajamas, trying to keep my 3-year-old twins from all out battle. It does not leave me much time to view or ponder news coverage these days. But when I do get a chance to watch the news, I am often disappointed. I find the coverage so slavishly devoted to live shots of some late-breaking item that there is less attention to storytelling.

When I first became a war correspondent, I found it challenging and exciting. I felt like I was at the center of the action. I got a chance to observe life-and-death situations up close. I learned a tremendous amount about the world and the nature of conflict. But the more war I saw, the less I understood how we could continue to let it happen. On some level I believed that if I kept bringing the horror of war to people’s attention, it would in some way help force somebody put an end to it. Well, I certainly didn’t stop any wars. But I did learn that those who were suffering benefited by having someone listen to their stories.

It did not bring back their loved one or rebuild their villages, but a simple moment of connection, when someone actually listened to their stories, seemed to make a difference.

Instead of “fighting terrorism” by invading another country and destroying thousands of lives, not to mention the American families of soldiers who are killed or wounded, we should fight terrorism by building bridges and connections. We should fight hatred by showing compassion and understanding. We should help heal by telling better stories, stories that illuminate and celebrate our common humanity, not our petty differences.


Subjects Covered: education, healing

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