By Claire • NewsCred Blog • Feb 24, 2012
Journalists used to make the news. Increasingly, they're becoming part of it. The recent deaths of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik in Syria are tragic, but telling examples of a new trend in conflict reporting: blame the messenger. Whereas once journalists were afforded a certain degree of safety, today that immunity is eroding. "Journalists today are in a very difficult position in the Middle East because they can't be independent third-party witnesses any more," said Lara Logan in an interview Thursday for CBS This Morning. "It's not the same fight when a very high powered minister in the Egyptian government declared journalists the enemy of the state," she said. Logan knows the affect of these policies firsthand. Logan was captured and sexually assaulted in February of last year while covering the uprising in Tahrir Square for CBS. Logan's experience, however, was just one of the many instances of journalists being targeted in recent months. In April, several journalists -- including Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario -- were detained and brutalized by forces loyal to to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Weeks later in Libya, two photographers, Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, were killed. This shift, Logan said, "changes the stakes extraordinarily." At the same time, this violence underscores the importance of the role journalists fulfill. "If you're not there to record the truth about what is happening to them, then it can't be stopped," said Logan, "Marie was telling the story of the people whose voices cannot otherwise be heard." When she filed her last story with CNN's AC360, Colvin was one of the few foreign journalists who remained in Homs, Syria. Colvin's dispatches from Homs were pointed and accusatory. "These are 28,000 civilians, men, women and children, hiding, being shelled, defenseless," she told Anderson Cooper:
"Every civilian house on this street has been hit. We're talking about a very poor popular neighborhood. The top floor of the building I'm in has been hit, in fact, totally destroyed. There are no military targets here...The Syrian Army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians."
Her report, and those like it, are particularly incendiary because they run contrary to Assad's promises to halt violence in Syria -- a promise Russia used to justify a vetoing a UN resolution calling for the creation of a "Friends of Syria" group that would have sought a solution to the crisis. Though slated to leave the day she died, Colvin believed strongly in showing the violence around her. As Brian Stelter recently pointed out in an article for the New York Times, Colvin hoped that her reporting from Syria would be made available outside of the Sunday Times's paywall. "Getting the story out from here is what we got into journalism for," Colvin wrote shortly before she died. After a Twitter campaign, the Sunday Times agreed. Her final dispatch from Homs, "We Live in Fear of Massacre," is available here. Other recommended reading: