Thursday, February 23, 2012

The dangerous profession

Journalism, when it is done right, can be a dangerous profession. We've had at least three tragic reminders of that fact this week, all of them related to the conflict in Syria.

First, award-winning reporter Anthony Shadid of The New York Times died tragically and unnecessarily. His death was apparently the result of natural causes, a severe asthma attack, but if he had not been in that dangerous part of the world, trying to shed light on the murky situation there for his readers, he would probably have gotten the medical attention that he needed in time to save his life.

But then, later in the week, two more journalists, Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times and her companion, French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in the shelling of the city of Homs. There have been suggestions that journalists are actually being targeted by the repressive Syrian regime as it tries to hold on to power. They don't want the story of their brutality to be shown to the world and so they must stop courageous journalists from reporting it.

Assad's government has shown no compunction about turning guns on their own people. Syrian children, women, and noncombatant men have been senselessly slaughtered in this reign of terror. The United Nations has accused the regime of crimes against humanity and it is long past time that they should be gone and allow the Syrian people to begin to rebuild their country.

And speaking of the Syrian people, they have shown remarkable courage in this dangerous situation. Again and again, they have taken to the streets, putting their lives on the line to try to bring about change. That is the story that Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin were trying to tell with their journalistic talents and that Remi Ochlik was trying to show to the world with his camera. They had courage to match that of the Syrian people.

Courageous journalists can make a difference. I only wish that we had more such journalists who were willing to stand up to power and to tell the truth in this country.

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