Reprinted from Spring 2010 InterCom
Visiting Assistant Professor Brings the Heart of Embedded Journalism to USC
By Mandi Sordelet, Student Writer
Fifteen minutes before Dr. Miron Varouhakis’ class begins, two men in army uniforms
enter the room.
Normally, such a sight might imply some
national emergency. But in this Media and
the Military class, visiting soldiers are common.
When the clock strikes 1530 hours, the soldiers
launch into a presentation about embedded
journalism and the rules and regulations
military reporters should follow. Dr.
Varouhakis interjects a few times, offering
examples and anecdotes from his own experience
as an international correspondent.
Dr. Varouhakis is a visiting assistant professor
at the School of Journalism and Mass
Communications. Before he came to USC,
he covered stories about torture victims, international
politics and security at the 2004
Olympic Games in Greece, the first after the
September 11 attacks.
Although this is the first time the class was
offered, Dr. Varouhakis saw a need for
Media and the Military long before he arrived
at USC. He noticed there were many
embedded reporters who didn’t understand
the dynamics of the military. “My goal was
to create a course to familiarize future journalists
with the culture and structure of the
military,” he said.
Dr. Varouhakis wasn’t always interested in
journalism. He harbored a passion for photography
as he grew up in Greece. After high
school, he attended a photography school
where he befriended a photojournalist returning
for a photography degree. Together
they covered major events and political trials,
which led to his enthusiasm for print
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from
Michigan State University, he returned to
Greece as a reporter for the Kathimerini-International
Herald Tribune. By 2002, he was
an international correspondent for The Associated
Press in Athens. In 2005, he returned
to Michigan State University to earn his doctorate
in Media and Information Studies.
Although Dr. Varouhakis is dedicated to international
and military journalism, he said
his other passion is human rights. After reporting
about torture victims, his research
led to numerous articles and inspiration for
his recently released book, Shadows of Heroes:
The Journey of a Doctor and a Journalist
in the Lives of Ordinary People Who Became
Victims of Torture.
It features accounts of torture survivors from
across the Middle East, Asia, North Africa,
Europe and South and North America. The
book includes excerpts from interviews he
held with Dr. Maria Piniou-Kalli, former
president of the International Rehabilitation
Council for Torture Victims based in Copenhagen.
From these testimonies, he analyzed
recent torture trends, identified human rights
groups that work in the area of torture and
investigated the issue of asylum.
In Media and the Military, Dr. Varouhakis
teaches the purpose of embedded journalists
and the art of covering the military. He noted
that writing about the military is a particularly
“There is no similar course taught anywhere, so this is a unique opportunity for students,”
said Dr. Varouhakis.
Chris Hudler, a fourth-year public relations
major, said, “I think there’s nothing more
valuable than practical experience. You can
tell he has lived and experienced the stuff
he is teaching and you feel you are learning
something you will actually get to use.”
The students linger at the end of class, genuinely
interested in what their professor has
to offer. Whether they plan on international
reporting, becoming embedded journalists
or writing about the military, they know Dr.
Varouhakis’ class is the best for following
those dreams. After all, he is the J-school