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Friday, February 18, 2011

Reporters and Responsibility

At The Huffington Post, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes about Lara Logan, the CBS reporter who suffered a brutal sexual assault while covering protests in Egypt:
I do not speak for Ms. Logan or any other reporter who has worked in conflict zones or amid scenes of great upheaval. But I will take the liberty of answering the basic question of why Logan was there in the first place.

Because it is her job. Because she is good at it. And because it is what she does.

War reporters are often seen as a wild bunch of thrill-seekers who wade into danger zones simply for the sake of the adrenalin high the settings inevitably provide. But this one-dimensional explanation leaves out the core of the story, which is that reporters go to these places because they feel the tug of responsibility. The responsibility to tell stories in parts of the world that most of their readers will never see or know, despite the fact that their countries play a leading role in the imaginations of the men and women in countries like Egypt, and Afghanistan and Iraq.


It is possible I take the media attacks on Logan personally because, though we have never met, we share friends and colleagues in Afghanistan, where, since 2005, I have reported on the women whose strength and ingenuity saved their families during the Taliban years and the businesswomen who are boldy rebuilding their country today. In December I traveled to Afghanistan while nearly seven months pregnant to report on efforts to fight the scourge of maternal mortality in the country, one of the deadliest places in the world to be an expectant mother. My family and I told few people of the trip because we knew they would inevitably question the decision to go, despite the fact that I had done all possible to limit the risks. For me, it was about giving voice to those who would not otherwise have one and about telling stories I believe matter deeply. And it was about the sense of service and responsibility that calls you to journalism in the first place.