Press-Gazette: Combat journalist to visit UWGB

Kevin Sites to speak on ‘World of Conflict’

By Kelly McBride
October 1, 2008

Link to original article here.

A renowned war correspondent will visit the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay today and Thursday in hopes of getting students and the community to further open their eyes to the world around them.

Kevin Sites will screen his documentary, “A World of Conflict,” and lead a discussion from 8 to 9:30 p.m. today in the Phoenix rooms of the University Union.

Thursday, Sites will deliver a lecture and presentation at the same time and place.

Sites has traveled the world as a solo journalist or “so-jo,” meaning he works without a crew to record video, write, edit and transmit multimedia reports. He was Yahoo!’s first war correspondent, and has authored a book, “In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars.”

Working in combat zones has taught Sites about the true nature of war, he said Tuesday in a phone interview. It’s a hard-learned lesson that war’s most dramatic moments aren’t necessarily synonymous with its lasting impacts, he said.

“War should be defined not as combat, but as collateral damage,” he said, referring to civilian casualties and hardships that often far outlast a conflict. “… It is that collateral damage which is the lasting legacy and the biggest part of it.”

Sites’ job in a war zone is to seek and report the truth, he said, even if it’s unpalatable or unpopular. He received countless death threats after his video of a U.S. Marine shooting a wounded Iraqi insurgent in a Fallujah mosque circulated in 2004.

Objectivity in such situations can be difficult, Sites said, because to a certain extent he’s become friends with military personnel he’s covered. But his ultimate obligation is to his work.

“I never felt like I was betraying them, because I wasn’t — they live by a code of principles as well,” he said. “What happened in that mosque was not an example of them living by their principles.”

Sites’ campus visit is part of UWGB’s new Common Theme initiative, a yearlong program geared toward engaging the campus and community in the ideals of a liberal arts education and the school’s interdisciplinary mission.

This year’s Common Theme is “Waging War, Waging Peace.”

Whether a student who hasn’t had a chance to travel or a faculty member who’s seen the world, the Common Theme and Sites’ insights are widely applicable, said Brenda Amenson-Hill, assistant dean for campus life.

“Even the really well-traveled faculty and staff,” she said, “actually those are some of the people that want to continue learning the most. We can all keep learning.”