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Episode 72: Investigative Journalism in the Digital Age with Emily Kassie

podcast Dec 31, 2021

In this episode, Sharon is joined by Emily Kassie, an Emmy and Peabody nominated investigative journalist and filmmaker, to discuss the highly contentious U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years. During her career, Emily has covered conflict, abuse, and fracture points in the U.S and internationally for PBS Newshour, the New York Times, Netflix, Frontline, Time, the Guardian, and more. In 2021, she traveled to Afghanistan and smuggled into Taliban territory with fellow PBS NewsHour journalist Jane Ferguson to develop a six-part documentary series called “The Longest War,” detailing the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Emily answers pressing questions about Taliban peace talks, military equipment left in Afghanistan, targeted killings, the history of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, why Kabul fell so quickly, and what life is like under Taliban rule today. 

Link to Full Episode:

This Episode Will Teach You:

  • How has the media maligned America?
  • Holding our democracy accountable through investigative journalism
  • Could the Afghanistan withdrawal have been better planned?
  • Can economic pressure suppress the Taliban? 
  • Misconceptions about the Afghan people  
  • Using film as a tool for social change
  • What is the brain drain in Afghanistan?
  • Why the war with Afghanistan didn’t end with parades. 

3 Biggest Takeaways:

  • Emily Kassie is an Emmy and Peabody nominated investigative journalist and filmmaker who developed an interest in storytelling, journalism, and documentary work from a young age because she believed that film was a powerful tool for impact. Since she was 15, Emily has traveled the world starting in East Africa and making her way to Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, the Syrian border, and more in an effort to discover how she could use her gifts to share stories of injustice from other cultures and societies. A graduate of Brown University, Emily earned an Academy Award for student documentary following her documentary “I Married My Family’s Killer,” about inter-marriage in post-genocide Rwanda. 
  • In the digital age, the importance of investigative journalism has been diminished but Emily shares that it is a necessary tool to hold our democracy accountable. Within a democracy, we need resources in place to prevent corruption and injustice and investigative journalism provides just that. Ethical investigative journalists work on behalf of the people to share the non-partisan truth and hold people in power accountable on behalf of the public. Without investigative journalism, we would lose a sense of the truth in an era where fake news and clickbait run rampant. 
  • While the world eye was cast on Afghanistan in August of 2021 during the U.S. withdrawal, Emily shares that one cannot understand the complexity of this crisis without looking back on history. U.S. involvement in Afghanistan precedes 9/11 and can be examined throughout the second half of the twentieth century during proxy wars with the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union still maintained a presence in Afghanistan, the U.S. was funding the anti-communist rebel group Mujahideen who eventually developed into the modern-day Taliban. Many Americans fail to understand that U.S. funding helped the emergence of terrorist groups that we continue to clash with today. 

About the Guest:

Emily Kassie is a Peabody nominated investigative journalist and filmmaker. She has covered conflict, abuse, and fracture points in the U.S and internationally for PBS Newshour, the New York Times, Netflix, Frontline, Time, the Guardian, and more.  Reporting across the U.S, she has covered immigrant detention, hate crimes, sexual abuse, the opioid epidemic, the prison system, corporate corruption of major companies, and the impact of the coronavirus on immigrant communities. Internationally, she has reported on the ground on ISIS radicalization in Europe, child labor in Turkey, the Syrian refugee crisis in Greece and Germany, sex trafficking and mafia control in Italy, weapons and drug smuggling in the Saharan desert, and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.  Emily was the founding creative director of Huffington Post’s investigative magazine, Highline. In 2020 Emily was named Forbes 30 under 30 in the media. She graduated with honors from Brown University when she was awarded the Academy Award for student documentary. 

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