Journalist Marie Colvin killed in Syria
The media world lost a great talent last night, when veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin was killed in Syria. Nicholas Pipe and Daniel Fitzgerald reports.
The American journalist for the UK-based Sunday Times died in a Syrian Army rocket attack which also killed French photographer Remy Ochlik and injured others. The incident has once again put the safety of war reporting into the spotlight.
Nicholas Pipe spoke to Chris Warren, head of the journalist union, and asked him how journalists all around the world had responded to the news.
“They are terrible news over night from Syria, which I think distressed journalists all over the world.”
Does her death surprise you?
Well it surprises me she was killed in this way. It’s one level of shock on the other level given the absolute disregard for the safety of the media shown by the Syrian Government it’s inevitable that journalists along with many other people are going to be killed.”
Syria warned that they would use lethal force on any journalist who made it into Homs and they even said that they would attack the secret compound that the journalists were in. Is there a secrete line that journalist just shouldn’t cross?
“Well war correspondents always need to be aware of their obligation to themselves to act safely. But when you have a government that is prepared to act in such absolute disregard of its responsibilities to the civilians and the media, it’s inevitable and killings will happen. Killings are deliberate not just to punish a particular journalist but to send a warning to journalists all over the world to stay out of Syria and let the government crush the democratic movement free of external scrutiny.”
Are journalists becoming more attractive targets in warzones?
“I think that wherever you get a society in conflict journalists tends to be victims either accidently because they are there or because they get deliberately targeted. And what we see in Syria is obviously deliberate targeting of journalist.”
Marie Colvin once saluted to there being a difference between courage and bravado in war reporting. Now obviously Colvin wasn’t a reckless risk taker, but are there actually too many cowboy reporters out there who just take too many risks?
“Look I’m not sure that’s right. I think most journalists operating in conflict make themselves aware how to act safely and they have far more sophisticated training and preparation going in to conflict, than what might have been the case historically. We are not talking about cowboys. We are talking about generally serious, experienced journalists who worked in conflict before, but who gets deliberately targeted precisely because of their skills and expertise in exposing what is going on within Syria,”
How brave do you think you have to be to report on war?
“I think there’s a degree of bravery, that’s essential. But more importantly it requires a profound commitment to getting the story out. And I think that’s what happened here. I think there was a profound commitment wanting to report the atrocities going on within Syria. An understanding of the obligation of the journalist to keep the world informed about what’s going on. And they paid an extraordinary high price and there craft has paid a very high price as a result.”
And the most important way to create engagement is to give people a meaningful experience.
SP: People’s lives are getting out of control to an extent, because of the noise and volume of interactions that they have available to them online, and probably one of the important things is for us in terms of creating experiences online is, do they have meaning?