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Author visit: ‘Hot Zone’ author Kevin Sites coming to Catawba Nov. 14

By Tonia Black-Gold
Catawba College News Service
Award-winning journalist and author Kevin Sites will speak to Catawba College students and others in the campus community in Keppel Auditorium at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14, and the public is invited to attend.
Sites is the author of “In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars,” which was Catawba’s 2009 Common Summer Reading. In this, his first book, Sites attempts to put a human face on global conflict by reporting from every major war zone over the course of 2005-2006. During this time, Sites was working as a war correspondent for Yahoo.com which allowed his reporting to be nearly instantaneous and less edited.
According to his biographical material, Sites “helped blaze the trail for intrepid reporters who work alone, carrying only a backpack of portable digital technology to shoot, write, edit and transmit multimedia reports from the world’s most dangerous places.” He is in residence at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., having been named a 2010 Nieman Foundation Journalism Fellow.
He is also working on his second book for Harper Perennial to be released in 2010, “The Things We Cannot Say: What the World’s Warriors Can’t Tell You About What They’ve Seen, Done or Failed to Do in War.”
A group of staff, faculty, and students served as the selection committee for the Common Summer Reading of 2009. The committee found Sites’ book to have such merit that they recommended it to the entire community.
One of the goals for reading the book, the committee agreed, was to help students understand the nature of that which pervades the lives of so many citizens of the world. The student readers on the committee were shocked by the explicit descriptions of the brutality of war and found Sites’ descriptions haunting and memorable.
Discussion of “In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars” began among the Catawba first-year students with their faculty, Alphas and teaching fellows during orientation in August and has continued in their first-year seminar classes.
Faculty and staff reading groups on campus read and discussed the book over the summer. The book was also chosen as part of the fifth annual community-wide Summer Reading Challenge which focused on the theme, “Stories of Courage.” That event was a project coordinated by the Libretto Book Club, and sponsored by Waterworks Visual Arts Center, Salisbury Post, F&M Bank, Trinity Oaks Retirement Community, Catawba College, Friends of Rowan Public Library, Livingstone College, Literary Bookpost, Miller Davis Agency and Salisbury Symphony.
In November 2004, Sites, working as an NBC News correspondent, became a flashpoint of controversy when he videotaped the shooting of a wounded Iraqi insurgent in a Falluja mosque by a U.S. Marine ó one of the biggest stories of the current Iraqi war.
After the video’s airing, Sites was praised as a journalist willing to reveal the harsh realities of war and simultaneously vilified as a traitor to both the Marine unit that embedded him and his country. For his television and Web coverage of the story, Sites was honored with the 2005 Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism and was nominated for a national Emmy Award, his second such honor.
Sites’ controversial and award-winning war blog, www.kevinsites.net, revolutionized the genre as one of the first blogs that combined text, digital images and audio to provide readers with an intimate, behind-the-lines look at the war in Iraq and its coverage by mainstream media.Sites’ career spans cable and network news as well as print journalism. As a producer for NBC News, he received an Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage of the Kosovo war and was nominated for a national Emmy Award for contributions to a series on landmines. He has produced shows such as NBC’s “Nightly News with Tom Brokaw” and ABC’s “This Week with David Brinkley.” Sites has published numerous articles in newspapers and magazines, including “Popular Science,” “BlackBook” and “The New Times,” among others.
During a two-year sabbatical, Sites served as Broadcast Lecturer at California Polytechnic State University, Cal Poly, in San Luis Obispo and was named Distinguished Lecturer by the California Faculty Association. While at Cal Poly, he initiated a joint research project with Xybernaut, Inc. to modify wearable computers for solo digital reporting.
A native of Geneva, Ohio, Sites holds a masters degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. When not on assignment, he lives in Southern California.

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