In 1983, Hedges began his career reporting on the conflict in El Salvador. Following six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the Middle East Bureau Chief for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia followed by the war in Kosovo. Later, he joined the investigative team of The New York Times, based in Paris and covered terrorism. He has written for numerous publications including The Nation, Foreign Affairs, Harper's Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Mother Jones, New Humanist and Truthdig, where he currently writes a bi-weekly column.
Hedges was an early and vocal critic of the plan to invade and occupy Iraq. An editorial in The Wall Street Journal denounced Hedges for his anti-war stance reflected in his Commencement address at Rockford College in May 2003, which was cut short as it was met with unsympathetic response. Hedges left The New York Times not long after this incident to become a senior fellow at The Nation Institute, write books and teach.