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WAM 2009 Wrap up - Friday

WOW

That pretty much sums up the weekend. It was a whirlwind of everything. Yes, it's Thursday and I'm still reeling from the weekend.

Friday I got to have lunch with PunditMom. Then Jenn Pozner & I greeted each other like we always do - a huge hug. We realized later on that we've now been friends for about 12 years. YOWZAS! After dinner with Jenn, Lisa Jervis, Latoya Peterson and Jennifer Mattson we headed back to the conference building for the opening reception.

The opening plenary was made of three women journalists from Iraq, Columbia and Zimbabwe. Jenn live-blogged it, so I won't try to summarize it. What I will say is that I was floored at the bravery of the women. What I will always remember is that Huda, from Iraq, was a translator for English-speaking journalists. During one assignment the first question a journalist asked was if a man was Sunni or Shia. He responded to her with "That's the first question?" She spent a lot of time talking about how post-occupation Iraq is not good for the women, about the lack of rights and freedom they now have.

Jenny from Columbia was well poised for someone who has seen so much death. In fact, they all were, but Jenny had this peace about her. She did talk about how as journalists they aren't trained on self-care, how reporting from war zones is hard on you and how she would get calls threatening her sources. Her appearance in our lives coincided with Secretary of State Clinton's visit to Mexico. Both said within 24 hours of each other that Americans are fueling the drug wars. She also brought up the fact that we need to watch out for our companies that set up shop in other countries & how that effects locals.

Peta from Zimbabwe was funny. Her story was sad, but her delivery had an air of something that makes me smile when I think of her. She was the only one of the three who hasn't worked in the USA, so her story was quite unique. She also was the only one who thanked us, citizens of the USA, for the aid we send. Their government is crap, money is worth nothing and they truly rely on aid that countries send. What I took home from her was the idea that we never let up on our leaders. After many years of dictatorship there was an election and everyone celebrated...even journalists. She admitted that they practiced sunshine journalism - everything was positive.

This made me recall some of our outrage at how the White House media corps seems to have found their journalism badges after Obama was sworn in. On Twitter a lot of people seem to be saying, "NOW they ask the tough questions?" While it's a good question, we also shouldn't let the press NOT ask those questions of Obama. Not to mention that he can handle them.

The panel was truly amazing and inspiring.

A bunch of people ended up in the hotel sports bar to hang out and talk. I ended up playing pool with Jack. I lost. But I had a lot of fun chatting with people, clicking some photos and of course, playing one sloppy ass game of pool.

Whew! Just writing all of that made me just as tired as I was on Friday night.

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