February 18, 2008

HARRISONBURG—Veteran journalist Walter Rodgers, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at James Madison University’s Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs, will give a lecture on “Whither Pakistan: Creeping Talibanization or Secular Democracy?” on Wednesday, February 27, 2008, at 7:00 p.m. in ISAT 159. The presentation, part of the Nelson Institute’s 2007-2008 Guardian Lecture Series, is free and open to the public.

Rodgers is currently teaching a semester-long course on journalism and war for JMU students, sponsored by the Department of Justice Studies. He previously taught a similar course in the fall semester of 2006 when he came to the Nelson Institute after retiring as a senior international correspondent for CNN based in London. He spent most of 2007 training journalists and carrying out research in Pakistan and only returned to the United States last month to begin his course at JMU.

Prior to being named CNN senior international correspondent in London in September 2000, Rodgers served as the news network’s bureau chief in Jerusalem for five and a half years. After 9/11, Rodgers traveled across central and southwestern Asia, reporting from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, and Turkey. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was an imbedded journalist with the U.S. Army’s 7 th Cavalry as it rolled toward Baghdad, an experience which he chronicled in his book Sleeping with Custer and the 7 th Cavalry: An Imbedded Reporter in Iraq, published by Southern Illinois University Press.

Rodgers earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Southern Illinois University and pursued doctoral studies in history at the University of Washington before going into broadcast journalism. He joined ABC News in 1981 as a London-based correspondent. From 1984 to 1989, he worked as the ABC News bureau chief in Moscow, where he covered a wide range of stories including the first four years of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms which eventually led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Over the more than three decades of his career in journalism, Rodgers has covered every U.S.-Soviet summit since the 1974 meeting between U.S. President Gerald Ford and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. He also covered the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the Iranian hostage crisis, and the Watergate court proceedings. From 1981-1983, he covered the Falklands War and, in 1982, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

In addition to his broadcast journalism, Rodgers has written extensively for the Associated Press, The Washington Post, Washingtonian magazine, and the Christian Science Monitor.

Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute, said, “We are really delighted to have Walter Rodgers back at JMU and especially fortunate to have his immediate analysis of the elections which are taking place in that critical country this week. I cannot help but recall that back in December he sent me an op-ed he published in the Christian Science Monitorarguing that ‘any society that wants to move toward democracy in any meaningful sense must meet minimum requirements, including: an educated citizenry, a credible legal culture, reasonable transparency in government, and real religious tolerance’—conditions which he found to be woefully lacking in Pakistan. His sobering judgment was that it was naïve to expect that for ‘free and fair elections’ would produce greater democracy and stability in the country. As it turns out, the very day his commentary was published, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.”