December 15, 2001
6:29 PM   Subscribe

"I felt no spark of creativity...only guilt that I survived to tell the tale." We're all newshounds here, so how about a thought on for the eight journalists that have died bringing us news in Afghanistan?
posted by Kevs (7 comments total)
And yet Geraldo still breathes. *sigh*
posted by Optamystic at 6:43 PM on December 15, 2001

The killing of journalists has, strangely (perhaps), created the most anger in me. You just don't do that. They aren't part of the fight! They're observers! They're serving the greater good!
But I know not everyone sees it that way. And too many of those who don't also have guns and little-to-no regard for the lives of others.
What's also irksome is the media frenzy whenever a US soldier is injured or killed, but hardly a mention for the journalists. How many people, in your daily news exposure, learned their names?
To say nothing of the anti-Taliban fighters killed....

That's also a wonderful piece. Thanks, Kevs.
posted by Ravagin at 6:47 PM on December 15, 2001

The sad part is that these journalists get paid crap to put their lives on the line. I feel most for the journalists who report, for years, under dangerous conditions - to have their stories never heard, except for the handful of people who tap into raw satellite feeds. 99 percent of international stories are blips buried deep in the newspaper, and are never broadcast in the mainstream American media.
posted by fleener at 6:59 PM on December 15, 2001

On NPR last week, I heard a surviving reporter who was in Afghanistan recently. He said that at least some of the reporters who died were killed in an ambush on the road...the attackers probably couldn't tell the difference, or didn't think they had time to try. He also said that Northern Alliance soldiers were unusually generous in allowing reporters to go with them into dangerous situations, and that some did it simply because they thought they'd never again have the opportunity to, say (actual example) ride on top of a tank.

I'm not saying they were responsible for their own deaths, but I think we should distinguish between reporters getting killed along with everyone else in the heat of battle, and some guy with a camera who is accused of being a spy, taken out to a field, and shot.
posted by bingo at 8:02 PM on December 15, 2001

[aside] It's easy to make fun of Geraldo but I tend to give him a pass because he did a really good thing in 1972 when he took an undercover camera into the Willowbrook institution on Staten Island and exposed the horrible conditions there which sparked major reforms in the housing and care of the retarded in this country.
posted by palegirl at 8:21 PM on December 15, 2001

Three were killed as collateral damage in a more general attack; four were killed in an ambush on the road, possibly mere banditry, though possibly an anti-Western racist execution; another was shot dead in a robbery of his "hotel room". In none of these cases was it clear they were targeted for being journalists. Fisk also got himself beat up after crossing into Pakistan when his jeep broke down, and blamed it on anti-Western feeling, though he told two separate stories about that; maybe he was just mugged. (In any case it's all our fault, you know; they're not mean, we made them that way.)

The thing about journalists in war zones is that they have their own agenda. The luckiest ingratiate themselves with particular commanders and units, and get invited into interesting situations, and maybe even are protected. Others are viewed as extensions of the enemy or, yes, sometimes as spies. (Heck, Greece even locked up some civilians from a fellow NATO-member just for looking at a military airfield.) It's a tricky business.

You don't even need to be in an openly-declared war zone; journalists are targeted in brutal regimes around the world on a regular basis for harassment, arrest, even death.

There was a lovely eulogy for a photojournalist who was killed in Africa; I think it was in the Atlantic, but I can't find it now. A former girlfriend/fellow journalist wrote it. He'd survived many a scrape, but ended up, as they say, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So far this year alone, 23 journalists have been killed reporting around the world.
posted by dhartung at 8:24 PM on December 15, 2001

It's easy to make fun of Geraldo... he did a really good thing in 1972... which sparked major reforms in the housing and care of the retarded...
bah! enlightened self-interest!
posted by quonsar at 8:35 PM on December 15, 2001

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