In this landmark two hundredth episode of The Just Checking In Podcast we checked in with conflict journalist and researcher Aram Shabanian.
Aram is the Open-Source Information Gathering (OSIG) Manager at the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy.
In this episode we discuss his unconventional route into conflict journalism, after having to study at two different universities after dropping out from the first one after failing his exams in his second year.
He then got an opportunity to appear on great friend of the pod Jake Hanrahan’s Popular Front podcast in 2018 and Matthew Gault’s podcast ‘War College’ and used those opportunities to get into the Middlebury Institute of International Studies for his post-graduate degree.
From there, he befriended a woman based in Iraq who brought him on board at the New Lines Institute where he got a foot in the door, before becoming a permanent member of staff through hard work and successfully predicting the Russia-Ukraine war.
In this episode we chart that unconventional journey in conflict journalism, class and elitism in this field and the problematic industry belief that in order to cut your teeth as a researcher, you must view a lot of harrowing content which can traumatise early-stage researchers.
We also discuss the latest situation in the war in Ukraine, the mutiny by the Putin-backed Wagner Group and the sexual abuse and war crimes being committed by Russian soldiers against Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) and the Ukrainian population.
For Aram’s mental health, we discuss his experience of depression, his diagnosis of ADHD, how medication has helped his mental health and the impact of the death of his mother which took place during a difficult time for his mental health already.
We finish by discussing his experience at the Evergreen State College from 2014-2017 during the most tumultuous time in its history as it was taken over by a group of hard-left activist students.
You can follow Aram on social media below: