Coverage of the human toll of war—on noncombatants, on women and children, and on the cities where they live—is as crucial to understanding conflict as the traditional reporting of battles, insurgencies, and invasions around the world, according to 2016 Lovejoy Award winner Alissa J. Rubin.
Rubin, a Pulitzer-decorated foreign correspondent for the New York Times, was celebrated this week at the 64th Elijah Parish Lovejoy Convocation at Colby. She addressed a packed Lorimer Chapel after receiving an honorary degree from President David A. Greene.
“War (is) much more than combat, it is the story of the destruction of civilian lives, the erosion of history, the loss of any sense of safety,” Rubin said. “I felt from early on that I wanted to understand how war worked, how it distorted society, how it eroded order, and in eroding order, it led people on all sides to do unspeakable things.”
As a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and then the New York Times, Rubin has covered conflict from the Balkans to Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly focusing on the lives of women in war zones. Her work frequently put Rubin in harm’s way, and in 2014 she was seriously injured in a helicopter accident in Iraq, where she was helping to report on the takeover of Northern Iraq by the Islamic State.
Greene praised Rubin’s “deep commitment to exposing violations of basic human rights,” while reaffirming Colby’s commitment to the historic values of freedom of expression.
“The Lovejoy Award reminds us of our own obligations to protect academic freedom and to continue the dogged pursuit of truth,” he said.
The award was established in 1952 to honor the memory of Elijah Parish Lovejoy, an 1826 graduate gunned down while defending his right to publish anti-slavery editorials.
Prior to the Lovejoy Convocation, three internationally known photographers were honored at an exhibit of their work in the Diamond atrium. Carol Guzy, Andrea Bruce, and Nina Berman all spoke briefly of their lives covering conflict and the effects of war around the world.