Patrick Cockburn has been deservedly called ‘the greatest living foreign correspondent in English’ (The New York Times). In four decades as a Middle East correspondent, first for the Financial Times and then for The Independent, he has reported on conflicts all over the region, from the Iran-Iraq War to Syria, winning countless awards. In 2014 he was one of the first journalists to predict the rise of Isis, winning both Foreign Affairs Journalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards and Foreign Commentator of the Year at the Press Awards for his incisive analysis.
His books include The Occupation (about the invasion of Iraq), which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in the US; The Broken Boy, a memoir of his childhood in 1950s Cork, and The Rise of Islamic State, a bestselling analysis of the Sunni revolution which has been translated into 16 languages.
In this year’s Hubert Butler Lecture, Cockburn draws on a lifetime of frontline experience to explore the challenges of war reporting in the modern era. With propagandists employing ever more sophisticated techniques, it has become even harder to combat the spread of fake news. Ranging across conflicts from Northern Ireland to Syria, Cockburn explores the rise of fake news and outlines his vision for truthful reportage in the 21st century.
The Hubert Butler Annual Lecture was established by the Festival in 2007 to honour the Kilkenny writer, historian and broadcaster whose remarkable consistency of vision and clarity of mind made him unique among 20th-century essayists.
Quite simply, the best western journalist at work in the Middle East today Seymour M Hersh
The greatest living foreign correspondent in English, a writer of understated integrity and compassion, with the necessary balance of indignation and detachment The New York Times