128 | Robert Fisk & Yung Chang (This Is Not a Movie)

My Summer Lair Chapter #128: Is This A Documentary About Robert Fisk Or Is This A Documentary About Journalism?

“Sometimes that’s really frustrating. But if the mark was that something has to change, you would end up going insane. For me—this is going to sound clichéd and hokey—but I do believe that there’s something important about bearing witness, and that there’s nothing worse than somebody dying in silence. And so I do believe that there is value in at least learning people’s names and telling their stories.”

That’s Anderson Cooper on the Howard Stern Show on March 31, 2014.

In terms of journalism and in terms of entertainment I am not an Anderson Cooper fan however with that insightful quote he does a fantastic job summing up one of the primary roles of journalism: learn people’s names and tell their stories. It is a type of journalism that is dying but it is a type of journalism that Robert Fisk has always practiced. Which is one of the reasons why his work resonates.

So it is no surprise that he would be the subject of yet another documentary however director Yung Chang smartly broadens the discussion to include a contemporary reflection on journalism. If journalism is about learning the names and the stories Chang’s documentary through exquisite editing subtly confirms how little the actual locations change: we continue to talk about the same places over and over and over again.

And though it was not my finest moment professionally it was an honour to talk to Robert Fisk and to hear from him and about his experiences. What a treat.

Yung Chang @ WT F

Host & Photography by Sammy Younan

Recorded: Tuesday September 10, 2019 at 10:30am EST at The NFB

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