The Dangerous Game of Journalism

Posted by McKenzie Anderson

This photo was taken by Carl Montgomery on October 26, 2008 in Kart-e-Wali, Kabul, Kabul, AF. Licensed under Creative Commons.

It’s not a secret that being a reporter can be dangerous. As journalists, we are expected to put ourselves in uncomfortable, unsafe situations—and that’s because it’s our job. We have an obligation to our readers to report on stories, even if it comes with taking some major risks.

But lately I’ve been questioning how far is too far? Where do we draw the fine line between necessary reporting and necessary safety?

I was reading an article this morning on BBC news. A Sunday Times reporter and an award-winning French photographer both died while over in a Syrian city. Both journalists had been staying in a makeshift media center in the Baba Amr district when a shell hit the center. Marie Colvin (from Sunday Times) and Remi Ochlik (photographer) both died after the hit, while several other journalists were injured. In the article, you also learn that Colvin had already lost sight in one eye after getting hit by a shrapnel while reporting in Sri Lanka in 2001.

So what’s the appeal in reporting in war zones and other dangerous settings?

While doing more research on the subject, I remembered a documentary I’ve heard about called Under Fire. Here is a trailer for a little bit of background.

When watching this video, I realized that there are some rewards to living life on the edge, but I’m still left with questions. How far is too far? When does our safety become more important than our journalistic obligations?

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4 responses to “The Dangerous Game of Journalism

  1. It’s obvious there are great dangers for journalists going in to countries of conflict. I think the world needs to know what is happening around the world and without journalists positioned in some of these places, the truth wouldn’t be told. The dangers are very legitimate concerns. They are in just at dangerous situations as soldiers without the combat training. That is pretty scary. I’m not quite sure what is considered ‘too dangerous’ but I think a bad solution would be to take journalists out of these countries completely.

  2. I think this a really important one that journalists have to ask themselves and I would answer the question with another question: are you willing to die for this information? If the answer is no, then leave. I think it’s up to each individual journalist to decide how dangerous is too dangerous. We all understand the risks of going into a war-like situation and those two journalists probably understood them better than most people. But they felt that they needed to be there.

  3. During the Iraq war, there was very little front line journalism. This is mostly due to the danger. Even though we have more than enough journalists in the United States, we don’t have enough journalistic courage. The best reporting during the early days of the Iraq war came out of NPR and Rolling Stone Magazine, of all places.

  4. I agree with Ashton. We have to ask ourselves, as journalists, if we’re willing to risk our lives in order to retrieve and report on information in dangerous situations. I believe it is absolutely necessary to have journalists reporting on war and conflicts in other countries. Like Greg said, we need more people to step up. How do you we can gain journalistic courage though? More training?

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