Jennifer Glasse, JOUR ’91, has seen – and covered – the world since she graduated from Temple University.
A correspondent for Al Jazeera English in Kabul, Afghanistan, Glass returned to campus Nov. 1 to offer School of Media and Communication students the inside scoop on her career in international journalism.
Glasse became a self-described “accidental war correspondent” following graduation. Soon after she was sent to Moscow for ABC News, a job she earned as a result of an internship while studying in London, Boris Yeltsin sent his forces into Moscow to oust his opponents from Parliament.
Since then, the gregarious reporter has filed stories from nearly 80 different countries.
Glasse knew journalism was her calling as soon as she entered the ABC newsroom for the first time.
“These are my people,” she thought. “Somewhere in all of this, I belong.”
Students in two different SMC classes, who likely hope to experience the same epiphany one day, had the opportunity to quiz Glasse on dealing with language barriers, building relationships and the challenge of being a female reporter in some parts of the world.
They asked how she balances her professional and personal lives, especially since her job could take her anywhere at any time.
“They secret to this kind of life is you try not to be too attached,” she said. “If you are getting too attached, then you probably should settle down.”
And with the frequent changes of address, comes the need to understand more and more of the world’s cultures. It has been her devotion to research that has helped to protect her in some countries.
Glimmers of hope
But even with all of the atrocities Glasse has witnessed first-hand, she still maintains hope, especially when it comes to her fellow reporters working in developing nations, like Afghanistan.
“The press there has blossomed over the past decade,” she said. “There are plucky, brave, smart journalists there.”
Likewise, she said the media in parts of Africa is growing and becoming edgier.
Glasse said she’s constantly balancing the need to be accurate with the desire to be first, especially with social media.
“Twitter is just a whole new wire service… that has no accountability,” she said.
Glasse stressed the importance of learning to speak different languages to the students interested in following her career path in international journalism, especially since the best sources aren’t necessarily the ones who speak English, a population that generally is more educated and well-traveled. She suggested they hire trustworthy translators and record interviews so that a native speaker can help understand what was said at a later time.
Beyond all of that, speaking the same language improves the reporter/source relationship.
“It builds so much good will,” she said.