Where do war reporters draw the line between safety and responsibility?

Two journalists and seven activists were killed in Syria after rockets destroyed the house they were using as a media center.

Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times in Britain and award-winning French photographer Rémi Ochlik were covering the war in the oppressed town of Homs, Syria.

The American-born Colvin has been reporting on the front lines of war for the Sunday Times for nearly 20 years. The attack was not the first injury she sustained while in the field. She lost her eye in 2001 during an ambush in Sri Lanka.

Sadly enough, Colvin was supposed to return home Tuesday, according to her mother, but stayed to complete an unfinished story.

“She had a story she felt was very important,” Rosemarie Colvin said, adding that her daughter had spoken yesterday with her editor who ordered her to leave because it was so dangerous, according to CBS News. “She would take one more day. She was totally dedicated to getting the story straight and getting it out.”

The shocking murders pose a serious query to how far journalists should take their coverage of war, especially when reporting directly on the scene while surrounded by deadly turmoil. It’s something Marie Colvin reflected upon before her tragic demise.

“We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story,” Colvin said. “What is bravery and what is bravado?”

War reporting is unlike any other, where it is equally as important as any other news because the outcome could affect the lives of many.  The media cannot succumb to terrorist stipulation, which appears to be to ‘go away or else.’

The world needs reporters like Colvin and Olchik, who were willing to get the story at any and all costs. They could be of a dying breed though, as more are killed in action, like the battling soldiers, serving their duty.

How do we as journalists ensure our own safety while in the field? What steps can we take to avoid tragedies like this, yet still obtain and report the information readers need?

 

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