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Female professionals discuss work in war zones

Several successful female journalists and communication professionals assembled in a packed room of Emerson students and faculty on Monday for a panel discussion about female communicators working in conflict areas around the world.

The panelists were: Rima Vydmantas, a spokeswoman for the Consular Affairs Bureau at the U.S. Department of State and a former CNN reporter; Kimberly Dozier, a correspondent for the Associated Press Washington Bureau who previously worked for CBS in Baghdad; and Kathy Eagen, a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State and former reporter. Nadia Zaffar, a Journalism graduate student who has worked as a broadcast reporter in Pakistan, moderated the discussion.

Nadia Zaffar, Kimberly Dozier, Rima Vydmantas, and Kathy Eagen spoke to Emerson students about their experiences working in areas of conflict around the world.

The women spoke about their training and careers as well as their experiences of living in places where they often felt unwelcome.

In recounting the time she spent in Pakistan, Eagen noted that as long as she respected the culture and customs of the Pakistani people, she received little flack for her gender.

When asked about the role her gender played during her experience working in Iraq, Dozier replied, “I never thought I was doing something that was unusual for a woman to do…I wanted to go where the story was!”

The journalists all agreed that working in areas of unrest can be psychologically taxing and that being able to compartmentalize emotions is necessary to carry on. Vydmantas emphasized, “Denial is a powerful tool in surviving in a warzone…you have to tell yourself you will be safe as long as you’re not too reckless.”

The discussion was sponsored by the Department of Journalism as part of Communication Week 2012.

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