To the Best of Our Knowledge

Saturday - Sunday 5AM - 6AM

Built around a weekly theme, "To the Best of Our Knowledge" invites listeners to a dinner party of ideas, where smart people think out loud. It’s a curiosity-fueled gathering of fascinating guests – newly-discovered novelists, ground-breaking scientists, filmmakers, philosophers and a host of others.

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Taking pictures of war is complicated. The late philosopher Susan Sontag thought a lot about the moral implications of taking and looking at photos of human conflict. She wrote a classic book on the subject, called “Regarding the Pain of Others.”  We're revisiting our interview with her, about how to see and think about photography.

Great war photographers bring a tremendous sense of mission to their work.  Most of them believe the right image seen by enough people at the right time can change the world.  Maybe not right away – but in time.  Over the past 30 years, the photographer James Nachtwey has covered just about every major armed conflict in the world.  He's been shot and wounded more than once, and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize ten times.  We talked with him when he had just put together an exhibition of photos he took in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the place those wars began - Ground Zero on 9/11.

Is the Risk of Photojournalism Worth It?

Jun 11, 2016

This week all of us – public radio listeners and producers -- were shocked and saddened by the death of NPR photojournalist David Gilkey.  He and his translator, Zabihullah "Zabi" Tamann, were killed while they were on assignment in Afghanistan, when the convoy they were traveling in was ambushed by Taliban.    Photojournalists like David go places most of us wouldn’t want to go, they take pictures of things we may not want to see… They risk their lives, hoping to send back that one image that just might change someone’s mind or open someone’s heart. 

Photography Beyond Tragedy

Jun 11, 2016

The stereotype of photojournalists is that they’re adrenaline junkies.  Risk takers.  But they're often surprisingly humble about their work -- maybe because their job is to erase themselves, to become the lens that lets us see the world.  Here photojournalist Brendan Bannon talks about finding beauty in the midst of suffering and about a photo he took at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. 

The Aesthetic Beauty of War Photography

Jun 11, 2016

There are moral and ethical issues that come up around war photography. Writer David Shields charged the New York Times with glamorizing war in photographs.  Shields analyzed 100’s of pictures published on the front page of the Times and last year he wrote a book accusing the paper of making war beautiful.  Charles Monroe-Kane sat down to talk with him.