#009 – Emma Beals on life as an independent war reporter in the age of ISIS


First as an investigative journalist, and now as an analyst, Emma Beals has been covering the rise of ISIS and the wars in Syria and Iraq since 2012. During that time, reporting on the conflicts has become so dangerous that the nature of war reporting itself has had to change. Journalists, now targets in these wars, have increasingly turned to digital tools to augment their reporting.

In this interview, Emma tells me how she has coped with the trauma of losing friends and colleagues in the wars (she has lost count of how many), and why she continues to write about the ongoing tragedy in Syria when many people have simply given up hope. “The hope is very small but there is space for solutions that are more just than they might be if we don’t do anything,” she says.

Emma, a freelancer, also discusses why she left a quiet life in idyllic New Zealand to pursue a career as a war reporter, why she started a paid newsletter, co-authored with Tobias Schneider, that goes deep on Syria (subscribe!), and why she called out Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in a tweet that thundered around the internet.

This interview was conducted by Skype over a spotty internet connection from a studio in Beirut as Emma’s iPhone battery dwindled to zero, but we got through it mostly intact. I trust you will, too.