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August 27, 2006
A Look At War Correspondents

Jules Crittendon pens a moving column about the life of a war correspondent, a subject made more topical by the release of Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig from captivity in Gaza. He describes from personal experience the internal conflict of the enthusiasm for covering so much misery:

My buddy Sig is back in Iraq, in Ramadi. He wrote about hearing AK fire, followed by mortars ... a need to hunker down at that point ... and the crack of M4s on the roof.He liked the familiar feel of adrenalin in his veins again.Sig has been counseled for post-traumatic stress, but he still goes back. I remember when Sig and I spent two days in a hotel room in D.C., drinking bourbon and just talking at each other non-stop, all of it pouring out.

I remember that feeling Sig described in his email from Ramadi, when I got over my own dread and discovered that I loved combat, even with its moments of uncertainty and terror. Then, when two newsmen I knew were dead, the horrible feeling that I would be dead soon too and that my children would be weeping like theirs were.Four other newsmen died in the next two days, but I didn’t.I got to come home.

Home is where the rage comes out. Home is where you remember a dead kid and fight back tears.Home is where you find yourself wishing you could be back in the most horrible of places.Then someone ends up brain-damaged, or someone is taken hostage and you see her pleading for her life on video, and you wonder what kind of person you must be to still want to be there.

Bloggers have often castigated "balcony journalists" who report on the war from the safety of a hotel room, but we also criticize them for talking with terrorists out in the field. It's a question of balance, of course, and our basic objections have come from the lack of coverage for all of the successes we have had in Iraq. We need to be careful to reject the journalism while respecting the journalists who go out into the field to get the stories.

Two days ago I criticized Ellen Knickmeyer and the Washington Post for going into harm's way to file a banal piece about Shi'ite death squads in Baghdad. It's an example of the difference. Knickmeyer had the courage to go outside the Green Zone to try to get stories on the war effort, and I respect that. I wish that Knickmeyer had spent her time to better use by telling us something we didn't already know, perhaps by riding along with American and Iraqi patrols in Baghdad and reporting in more detail on the new security plan and how it plays out on Baghdad streets. Even better, I'd like a better report about how Iraqi security is performing in other provinces, especially those which have either transitioned to Iraqi control or are about to do so.

Like Jill Carroll, though, at least Knickmeyer has the courage to go out and get her own stories rather than just give us an explosion count and a recap of the resultant hand-wringing. Crittendon reminds us that some of these people don't come home as a price for that courage.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 27, 2006 9:14 AM

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» Maybe its just me from The Real Ugly
but Jules Crittenden comes across as a self important jerk off in his article The War Tourists. My profession is an easy one to kick around.It isn’t brain surgery: going places, asking questions, taking pictures, writing it up, broadcasting it.There ... [Read More]

Tracked on August 27, 2006 10:29 PM

» Journalists Covering War: "The War Tourists" (UPDATED) from The Moderate Voice
Yesterday two Fox News reporters were released. And, in that context, he must read of the day IS HERE. "... [Read More]

Tracked on August 28, 2006 1:44 AM

» Journalists Covering War: "The War Tourists" (UPDATED) from The Moderate Voice
Yesterday two Fox News reporters were released. And, in that context, he must read of the day IS HERE. "... [Read More]

Tracked on August 28, 2006 1:45 AM


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