Last week, NIMJ co-sponsored the Military Reporters and Editors Conference with the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative.

Thursday evening featured Michael Hastings, of Rolling Stone magazine’s recent General McChrystal interview fame. He spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of students and veteran war correspondents. I even spied a former chief defense counsel for the military commissions in the crowd. Hastings began with short, but powerful, prepared remarks and then took questions for an hour. To say the mood was explosive would be an understatement. It quickly became apparent from the tone of the questions that the students all wanted to be Hastings, while his fellow reporters would have been happier to beat up a guy that some likely saw as a young punk. It did not help matters that Hastings initially chided a woman for not doing her research and not knowing what Hastings had previously said about the McChrystal incident. It was fascinating cinema for this interloper.

Friday’s events took place at American University Washington College of Law, and the big-name presenters again took center stage (with the exception of a certain NIMJ staffer on the first panel) to discuss issues that affect our nation’s veterans, active servicemembers, and our nation’s values. Here is a summary of the topics covered by some of the panels.

Renowned reporter and author Bob Woodward presented the luncheon keynote speech, during which he spoke of interviewing presidents and extolled the virtues of investigative journalism that isn’t afraid to question things. His quote that “democracies die in darkness” stayed with me.

The challenges of the military’s newly formed Cyber Command were detailed by a star panel that included former CIA Director R. James Woolsey and former Department of Homeland Security Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Paul Rosenzweig. Coverage is here.

You can watch Friday’s program here.

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