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Marlene Leung

Toronto Star Journalist speaks on terrorism

On the morning of 9/11, journalist Michelle Shephard remembers desperately trying to reach Ground Zero. Rather than succumbing to her fear, like so many others that day, the Toronto Star journalist recalls getting into a car with a few of her colleagues and driving straight to the scene of the attacks.   “After buying my ticket at Pearson, not realizing the airports had been shut down, I went back to the Star and we drove like crazy to Manhattan,” she said. “We got to Ground Zero as little pieces of the World Trade Centre were still falling. Thinking back to that night, it was like a scene from a movie. It was unbelievably surreal and sad.”   Shephard recounted her experiences that day and the decade that followed at the annual Clissold Journalism Lecture at the University of Western Ontario on Thursday, November 17.    Each year the lecture brings in a prominent journalist to give an address to the school’s journalism students and faculty. This year’s talk, entitled “Decade of Fear:  Reporting from Terrorism’s Grey Zone,” focused on Shephard’s experiences covering the national security beat for the Star.   In the past decade, the security beat has taken the 39-year-old to some of the most unstable regions of the world, including Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and the infamous Guantanamo Bay. Shephard visited the notorious prison 23 times, writing stories about men there she hopes “never see the light of day,” and many men who “should never have been there in the first place,” she said.   Shephard has also written high profile stories about the Maher Arar case, the rise of Al-Shabab - Al-Qaeda’s proxy in Somalia - and torture victims.   “All of these stories and all these places fit together in this global puzzle,” she said. “It’s really helped me… Read More