By Sissi De Flaviis

Robert Fisk, a fearless reporter respected by colleagues and competitors alike, passed away on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 in a hospital in Dublin, Ireland. He was 74.

Fisk, who held both British and Irish citizenship, received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Carleton University in 2004. These honorary doctorates are awarded annually to individuals who have shown exceptional service to the university or to the community at large, and/or for outstanding scholarly achievement in a profession not covered by other honorary degrees.

“I was pleased that Carleton awarded him an honorary LL.D. I remember he got a standing ovation for his commencement address,” says Philosophy Prof. Randal Marlin, a close acquaintance.

Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk at the Al Jazeera Forum in 2010 (Photo: Mohamed Nanabhay)

Fisk was a veteran Middle East foreign correspondent. He covered wars in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Lebanon and many others.

In 1983, Fisk received a doctorate in political science from Trinity College in Dublin. His thesis focused on Ireland’s neutrality and relations with Britain in the Second World War—or “the emergency,” as known in Ireland.

Marlin knew Fisk through his dad, Ervin Ross “Spike” Marlin, the OSS representative in Ireland during the Second World War who later became one of the founders of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 1946.

“I’ve always been very impressed by the historical depth and insight of Robert’s writing,” says Marlin.

“I still have the correspondence he exchanged with my father, which Fisk kindly gave me.”

The same year Fisk received his honorary degree from Carleton, he also delivered a wildly popular lecture titled The Fantasy War: Weapons of Mass Destruction and Democracy. The lecture was moved from a small classroom in Tory Building to the Bell Theater in Minto Centre due to the large number of people in attendance.

“Whenever he gave a talk at Carleton, the room—no matter how large—would be packed,” says Marlin.

Fisk had a long career in journalism. Most recently, he was a reporter for the British newspaper The Independent.

Fisk’s wife, Nelofer Pazira, an Afghan-Canadian filmmaker, human rights activist and only immediate survivor, graduated from Carleton’s journalism school in 1997. In 2019, Pazira made a documentary film about Fisk’ extraordinary—and sometimes controversial—journalistic journey titled This Is Not a Movie.

“You cannot get near the truth without being there,” he said in This Is Not a Movie.

More Stories

Friday, November 6, 2020 in
Share: Twitter, Facebook

More Stories