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Anorak | Marie Colvin mattered – good journalism shines a light to let us see

Marie Colvin mattered – good journalism shines a light to let us see

by | 22nd, February 2012

THE murder of Marie Colvin in Syria is big news. The media has time and scope to lament its own. There is no Ministry of Defence middle man to explain over a still of a fresh face how the dead soldier was a good man. The journalist speaks for herself.

Marie Colvin was killed in Homs, a city besieged by President Assad’s goons. Also killed was photographer Rémi Ochlik. Paul Conroy, a freelance photographer, Edith Bouvier, a reporter with Le Figaro, and French journalist named as William Daniel were all wounded. Three Syrians also died.

As Colvin told CNN hours before her death:

“You can sort of figure out where a sniper is. But you can’t figure out where a shell is going to land.”

Marie Colvin was just 55. She worked for the Sunday Times. She was an American.

Avaaz says 11 shells or rockets hit the house Colvin was working from.

So. What will her death mean? The media matters. Can the media now turn on Assad? Colvin’s last report told us:

These are twenty-eight thousand civilians, men, women and children, hiding, being shelled, defenseless. That little baby is one of two children who died today, one of the children being injured every day. That baby probably will move more people to think, “What is going on, and why is no one stopping this murder in Homs that is happening every day?…“t’s a complete and utter lie they’re only going after terrorists. The Syrian Army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians.”

Colvin was once the speaker at a service called Truth At All Costs, an event that honoured journalists who have died in war zones over the years. She said:

Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen, I am honored and humbled to be speaking to you at this service tonight to remember the journalists and their support staff who gave their lives to report from the war zones of the twenty-first century. I have been a war correspondent for most of my professional life. It has always been a hard calling. But the need for frontline, objective reporting has never been more compelling.Covering a war means going to places torn by chaos, destruction, and death, and trying to bear witness. It means trying to find the truth in a sandstorm of propaganda when armies, tribes or terrorists clash. And yes, it means taking risks, not just for yourself but often for the people who work closely with you.

Despite all the videos you see from the Ministry of Defense or the Pentagon, and all the sanitized language describing smart bombs and pinpoint strikes, the scene on the ground has remained remarkably the same for hundreds of years. Craters. Burned houses. Mutilated bodies. Women weeping for children and husbands. Men for their wives, mothers children.

Our mission is to report these horrors of war with accuracy and without prejudice. We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery, and what is bravado?

The media may well give undue weight to the death of one Westerner in a warzone. But she was our link to that place, the woman holding the looking glass so we could see the truth. Don’t tell. Show. It’s more powerful…

Undated photo of French photographer Remi Ochlik covering demonstrations in Cairo, who died Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012 in Homs, Syria. French photojournalist Remi Ochlik and an American journalist Marie Colvin working for a British newspaper were killed Wednesday by Syrian government shelling of the opposition stronghold of Homs, France’s government said.(AP Photo/Julien de Rosa)



Posted: 22nd, February 2012 | In: Reviews Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink