Why Do We Risk It All?

I always knew that if I was to become a journalist, I’d be a foreign correspondent. I want to cover war torn countries, disease stricken villages, and corrupt authoritarian regimes. The idea is quite romanticized, and I, as well as many others, often forget about the dangers of such a career. However, recent articles like the one in The New York Times , “Iraqi Working for Times Is Killed, Relatives Say” href= "http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/20/international/middleeast/20basra.html?oref=login"> about tragic death of journalist Fakher Haider are frequent reminders of the risks that journalists take in order to inform the public. Sure, we hear of unfortunate, yet high-profile deaths of journalists like Daniel Pearl and Michael Kelly. We learned about the fervor and aspirations of these journalists that led to their untimely deaths. But we seldom hear about the reasons lesser known, freelance, and/or international journalists lose their lives on the front line in order to get “the big story”.

War is part of the human experience; that much is inevitable. But recognizing this fact and living it are very different things. But what is it that makes them continue working on the front line? There are some opportunities worth dying for, but is journalism really one of them? So much is at stake. Is it the emotional intensity? The thrill of putting all on the line might get some people pumped. Denial of potentially fatal threats? According to the Chicago Tribume http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0509200143sep20,1,6639780.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true>, Mr.Haider “knew the risks of working as a journalist in Basra, an increasingly violent Iraqi city where Shiite militias are vying for power”. But he continued covering stories in Iraq because he craved “freedom, dignity, safety and a better life for his children”. For journalists like Haider, it is true passion and conviction. Maybe it’s the faith that good journalists have in free press and its necessity for democracy. One of the best reasons I’ve heard was quoted by CBS radio correspondent Eric Sevareid after covering World War II, "The war must be seen to be believed, but it must be lived to be understood." The truth is, journalists do it for any number of these reasons, if not all of them. There are just some risks worth dying for.

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