Casey Farrar ‘05 will be spending Christmas with her family in Wyoming, where she grew up—a far cry from where she was earlier this month.
For three weeks, Farrar was reporting from Iraq for The Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where she’s been a staff reporter for almost three years.
Farrar’s interest in going to Iraq started in June 2009, when she ran a series of stories about a 140-person army reserve unit based in Keene. She and photographer Steve Hooper documented the soldiers’ training at Fort Devens in Massachusetts and stayed in touch with them during their weekend drills that summer. Members of the unit knew that they’d eventually be stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan, and they asked Farrar to go with them when they were deployed.
Most small-market newspapers can’t afford to send a reporter to Iraq, which was the case with The Sentinel. But, Farrar persisted and with the newspaper’s support, she began the process of applying for a military embed—securing approval to travel with the Keene military unit to Iraq.
“I was excited about the opportunity. I had known since college that covering conflict was something I wanted to do, so I jumped at the opportunity and thought about the other stuff later.”
While majoring in Journalism at Emerson, Farrar took a class with Associate Professor Jerry Lanson: “We studied how journalists reported on wars, starting with WWII. We examined the history of covering conflict and the role of reporters and the class really led to my thinking about reporting from Iraq.”
Farrar also participated in the semester abroad program at Emerson’s castle in the Netherlands, Kasteel Well, and credits the program with sparking her interest in travel. After graduation, she spent two years in the Peace Corps before landing the position at The Sentinel.
The reason Farrar cited for wanting to cover this military unit’s experience in Iraq was the lack of news coverage of the troops over the last year or two. During her time in Iraq, she wrote 10 stories—all of which are archived on The Keene Sentinel website. She said the response from readers was very positive. In fact, on her last night in Iraq, Farrar held a live online chat. There was a flood of questions—more than she could answer in the hour timeframe.
When the unit from Keene returns to the U.S., she hopes to cover their homecoming ceremony in New Jersey. Today, she’s covering police and courts, and is excited about learning a new beat and reporting new stories.