In light of the fact that the 2 journalists Remi Ochlik and Marie Colvin have been killed this week in Syrian atrocities this post is dedicated to the brave men and women of media have dedicated their lives to journalism. The world of reporting remains strong thanks to the contributions of the dedicated these journalists. Imagery and coverage of such places and stories, made by these courageous individuals, are honored today. This is dedicated to the world of journalists and contributors to world press.
The devastating effect of war is seen through the eyes of journalists, documenting events around the globe. “War Correspondents” step into the dark areas of photography, information gathering and interviews.
William Howard Russell served as one of the first modern war correspondents during the 1800’s. Russell, a reporter with The Times, reported the Crimean War events for the publication describing an event he witnessed on October 25, 1854.
“The Russian gunners, when the storm of cavalry passed, returned to their guns. They saw their own cavalry mingled with the troopers who had just ridden over them, and to the eternal disgrace of the Russian name, the miscreants poured a murderous volley of grape and canister on the mass of struggling men and horses, mingling friend and foe in one common ruin. It was as much as our Heavy Cavalry Brigade could do to cover the retreat of the miserable remnants of that band of heroes as they returned to the place they had so lately quitted in all the pride of life. At 11:35 not a British soldier, except the dead and dying, was left in front of those bloody Muscovite guns…” ["The Charge of the Light Brigade” by William Howard Russell]
In an address at St. Bride’s, the journalist church, Marie Colvin, two years ago, so eloquently stated:
“In an age of 24/7 rolling news, blogs and Twitters, we are on constant call wherever we are… But war reporting is still essentially the same – someone has to go there and see what is happening. You can’t get that information without going to places where people are being shot at, and others are shooting at you.”
As seen above, the events taken place in war torn areas are graphic in nature. The human mind records the incident and the tragic events are stored. The idea of witnessing human suffering can impact the career of a journalist. The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma’s global network provides support for journalists that cover traumatic events. Psychiatrist Dr. Frank Ochberg from the Michigan Victim Alliance in partnership with DART, delivered a speech on PTSD and the 9/11 attacks in the United States. Dr. Ochberg stated the following:
“Clearly, there is no single prescription for the hurting that comes with helping others. So many people, so many professions are affected and afflicted: clergy, nurses, teachers, truckers – to name some who were not named before. Everyone who moves toward the scene to help, everyone who comforts someone who was there, everyone who listens closely, with sensitivity, is a potential casualty.” [“When Helping Hurts” by Dr. Frank M Ochberg, M.D.]
Safety concerns arise as press staff are given assignments in hostile environments. Problems have emerged when visiting and civilian Journalists are injured or killed during a military conflict while reporting. Under the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Rule 34:
“Civilian journalists engaged in professional missions in areas of armed conflict must be respected and protected as long as they are not taking a direct part in hostilities.”
These laws also protect international journalists during conflict. In some instances these laws are discarded by countries of war. August 24th 2011, Online journalist Humberto Millán Salazar was abducted and killed. On the eve of Salazar’s death, he posted an article opposing local Mexican government. French based organization “Reporters without Borders” urged authorities to “not to rule out the possibility that Millán was killed in connection with his work”. The Committee to Protect Journalist issued its statistical analysis of confirmed Journalist deaths for 2011.
- 46 deaths occurred in 2011.
- 28 of the deaths were related to politics.
- 22% of the Journalist staff affected was broadcasting staff.
- Pakistan ranked 1st Iraq 2nd and Libya 3rd in the Deadliest Countries of 2011.
- 7 were killed in crossfire and 18 killed on a dangerous assignment.
[Source: Committee to Protect Journalist]
With these events and speculations, the brave people of media remain. Their efforts shine bright in the sea of darkness and confusion. They supply us with information of the world. They place their lives on the line daily. Let us remember those who give their lives to reporting cruelty, oppression and injustice. Let us honor those who continue to walk this path.