Ethan and his Chicago-based collaborator Fawad Butt are frequent public speakers on Pakistan and on issues affecting the subcontinent and its diaspora communities around North America. Since 2006, Ethan has spoken to World Affairs Councils in Alaska, Oregon, Illinois and Pennsylvania; at Human Development Foundation fundraisers in Chicago, San Jose, and Tampa; and at high schools in Chicago and churches in Colorado Springs and Seattle. He was the keynote speaker introducing philanthropist Greg Mortenson at an April 2008 fundraising dinner in Chicago, and introduced Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea co-author David Oliver Relin at a King County Library System event in Renton, Washington in October 2008.
He has also spoken at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and other major universities, as well as at the Royal Geographical Society and the Pakistan High Commission in London. Ethan and Fawad are currently speaking mainly to American church and interfaith groups about the urgent need to foster human connections and understanding between Americans and Pakistanis.
Ethan fell into journalism the same way his role model, the late Observer foreign correspondent and travel writer Gavin Young, did: “the way a drunken man falls into a pond.” His first discovery of the world outside the United States, a trip to Haiti at age 16, spurred him to spend an academic year on the University of Wisconsin College Year in Nepal Program and later to move to Bangkok. His credo of journalism is that understanding should always precede both judgment and action, and he endorses James Fallows’s observation that journalists enjoy the privilege of getting paid to learn.
Between 1993 and 2001, Ethan traveled throughout Southeast Asia and the subcontinent, writing for publications including The Globe and Mail, the South China Morning Post, and US News & World Report. He interviewed Aung San Suu Kyi in April 1996, during her brief period out of house arrest; was an eyewitness to the July 1997 coup d’etat in Cambodia; interviewed Megawati Sukarnoputri (later President of Indonesia) in December 1996, during the last period of Suharto’s rule; interviewed Corazon Aquino on the 10th anniversary of the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos; was in Kathmandu in July 1994 for the fall of the first elected government of Nepal after the 1990 anti-royalist revolution and covered the November 1994 elections; and lived through the collapse of the Thai baht and other Asian currencies.
In 1994 he began covering the subcontinent, traveling around India by train and spending several extended periods in Jammu & Kashmir State near the height of the separatist rebellion there. His interest in Kashmir and in the subcontinent’s Muslims led him to visit Pakistan, where he interviewed Murtaza Bhutto, Benazir’s estranged brother; covered sectarian violence in Karachi and the plight of the country’s Christian minority; interviewed ordinary people as well as politicians and public figures such as Maleeha Lodhi (later Ambassador to the US and High Commissioner to the UK), Najam Sethi and Jugnu Mohsin, Ahmed Rashid, and human rights lawyer Hina Jilani; and visited the Line of Control during the 1999 Kargil crisis. In 2003 he was invited to spend a semester as a founding faculty member of the School of Media and Communication at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore.
Based in London from 1998 until 2005, he continued traveling to Asia as well as covering the farms crisis in Zimbabwe in 2000 for Geographical magazine; speaking at the Highway Africa conference for African journalists in Johannesburg in August 2002; covering the Haitian elections of November 2000 for the Financial Times; and traveling to Pakistan in 1999 for the Observer News Service and the Boston Globe. In 1999 he co-founded Blue Ear, a pioneering online periodical publishing global journalism, which James Fallows praised as “ambitious” and “innovative.” During this period he also edited three book-length collections: 09/11 8:48 a.m.: Documenting America’s Greatest Tragedy (in collaboration with Jay Rosen and the New York University Department of Journalism), its sequel, Dispatches from a Wounded World (with Leah Kohlenberg), and Peace Fire: Fragments from the Israel-Palestine Story (with Paul Hilder).
In recent years Ethan has written for Pakistani and Indian publications, and in 2006-07 he co-founded and co-hosted a weekly topical podcast on Pakistan.
He is also co-author, with Michael Betzold, of Queen of Diamonds: The Tiger Stadium Story (1991), for which he had the memorable honor of interviewing Eugene McCarthy and Elmore Leonard. He lives in Seattle and can be contacted at email@example.com.