ARCHIVED: Aryn Baker ’95 authors Time magazine cover story on Afghani women

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Aryn Baker ’95 authored a recent on Afghani women. A few years ago, Baker spoke to religion faculty member Kristen Sands’ “Introduction to Muslim Thought and Cultures” class. Professor Sands summarized the talk about Baker’s experiences as a foreign correspondent for Time:

"Ms. Baker, one of only three American correspondents stationed full-time in Afghanistan, described the difficulties of reporting from locations where wearing a burka and a flak jacket are basic security measures.  Taking us beyond the dangers journalists face in Afghanistan and Northwestern Pakistan, however, Ms. Baker emphasized the way in which security for ordinary Afghanis and Pakistanis has become the issue trumping all other issues in these areas. The situation there has become one where power is determined by whomever has the most guns. Support for different political and religious groups necessarily flows towards whomever can provide the best security.

"When asked by a student what she considers her role to be as a journalist in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ms. Baker spoke honestly about the challenges she faces. While she very much wants to act as a witness to the difficulties of the people who live in these areas, at the same time she must keep in mind the interests of her readers, without whom there would be no money for what amounts to very expensive reporting. She also spoke of an increasing shift in readership from print to Internet news and blogs. While lengthy analytical articles are still being published, the trend is towards ever shorter pieces, a format which does not lend itself easily to the explanation and analysis of complex issues and situations.

"Finally, when asked how her Sarah Lawrence education had prepared her for journalism, Ms. Baker spoke of learning how to think independently, and how to ask one's own questions."