Journalist Lisa Ling speaks at MU about global reporting

Thursday, September 17, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 2:09 p.m. CDT, Friday, September 18, 2009
Journalist Lisa Ling speaks about her career as an international correspondent at Jesse Auditorium. Ling recounted stories from her work abroad and expressed disappointment with the low level of media coverage given to international affairs. “The highest-rated news shows are the ones with old white guys telling you what to think. What does that say about the state of journalism – that we need to be told what to think? Opinions are masquerading as news.”

COLUMBIA — Already an international war correspondent at 25, journalist Lisa Ling has reported in more than two dozen countries to date.

Ling, known for her reporting on wartime rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and on child soldiers in Uganda, spoke in MU’s Jesse Auditorium Wednesday night about notable experiences throughout her career.

More on Ling's visit to MU

Reporter Kelsey Mirando blogs about Ling's stop in Columbia in U.Town, the Missourian's online conversation about higher education in Columbia.

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“I’m going to take you around the world with me,” Ling said as she began detailing her career history and globe-trotting experiences, including her first international reporting stint in Afghanistan and covering Colombia’s drug war.

Ling works as a special correspondent for the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” National Geographic’s “Explorer” and CNN’s “Planet in Peril.” She makes it her mission to raise global awareness and give voice to issues under-covered by mainstream media.

“The thing I love most about my job is I always go into every story with a definitive, preconceived idea," Ling said. "As soon as I hit the ground, I realize a story is never black and white.”

 After a tenure as a host on “The View,” Ling returned to field reporting to tackle some of the most sensitive issues around the world.

“I’ve been telling these stories because even with so many bona fide news outlets, how often are we given the opportunity to know what’s going on in the world?” Ling said. “Having a global perspective and the opportunity to be in the world and travel has transformed my life.”

Ling showed several clips of her work for National Geographic, including highlights from a trip to China where she accompanied families throughout their daughters’ adoption processes and an excerpt from her investigation of a California maximum-security prison.

“A little different from 'The View,'” right?” Ling said.

Before breaking for a question and answer session, Ling closed with a reading of a poem she wrote about the suffering of child brides she encountered in her travels.

Ling offered a lesson she heard from television talk show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.

“Now that you know, you can’t pretend that you don’t,” she said.

Ling’s MU visit was her first time speaking at a campus since the summer, said Nick Lang, senior chairman of the Missouri Students Association Department of Student Activities.

During what Ling called a “tumultuous and emotional summer,” she shared the public eye with her sister, Current TV reporter Laura Ling, who was arrested in North Korea in March and held until August.

Part of the Delta Gamma Foundation Lectureship in Values and Ethics series, the event was sponsored by Delta Gamma, Mizzou Alumni Association, MU Parent Development Council, the MU Department of Student Life and MSA/GPC Speakers Committee. Ling’s visit marked the 10th year of the fall lectureship.

Earlier in the day, Ling visited the MU Bookstore to promote her new book “Mother, Daughter, Sister, Bride: Rituals of Womanhood,” co-authored with Joanne Eicher.

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