The Tension of Endurance

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The Tension of Endurance

For KCRW, this is Nick Madigan of the Baltimore Sun with Minding the Media.

The deaths of two CBS crew members in Iraq, and the wounding of a veteran correspondent, are forcing news organizations to re-think their coverage of the war in view of the unrelenting danger.

No major news organizations are planning to pull out of Iraq, but the deaths, injuries and kidnappings of news professionals more than in any conflict in memory, including Vietnam are prompting a reappraisal of the need for large staffs in Iraq. Many smaller news outlets have left altogether.

"The balance between the imperative to cover this story and the imperative to do everything humanly possible to keep people safe which actually are contradictory is something we talk about all the time," Rome Hartman, executive producer of the CBS Evening News, said today by phone.

For the moment, he and other CBS News executives are focused on helping the families of cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman James Brolan, both of whom were killed in Monday's bombing.

With them at the time was CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier, who was critically wounded. She was flown today day to Germany for treatment at a U.S. military hospital.

Journalists are still managing to extract news from a country riven by sectarian violence and attacks on U.S. and British troops. In addition to Douglas and Brolan, at least 31 other people were killed in Iraq yesterday.

Joel Campagna, Middle East program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the threat to journalists in Iraq has been growing in the last two years.

"Before 2004," he said, "hundreds of journalists in Baghdad were able to move around the country pretty freely."

Now, covering such a conflict, with its daily bombings and attacks by insurgents, is an "inherently risky" endeavor, Campagna said.

But journalists who do it "know the risks full well, and are constantly weighing the risk of when they go out, where to go and how to do it," he said, mentioning specifically to ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff, who was badly hurt in a bombing on January 29.

In such an environment, reporters and camera crews risk their lives every time they step outside to report a story.

"The news profession has lost nearly 100 people in this devastating war--71 journalists and 26 support staffers," said Ann Cooper, executive director pf the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Dozens more have been injured or kidnapped in one of the most dangerous conflicts that journalists have ever covered."

Michael Ware, a former Time magazine bureau chief in Iraq who will return in a few weeks as CNN's newly hired correspondent there, said yesterday that he could not count the number of friends and colleagues who had been injured in Iraq.

Ware said the bombings and kidnappings of late he mentioned the abduction of Christian Science Monitor correspondent Jill Carroll, who was freed in March after more than 80 days in captivity are "part and parcel" of journalists' lives.

"It's something that you live with," Ware said, speaking from his home town, Brisbane, Australia, where he is on leave. "It's this underlying tension thatwalks with you every day," he said. "Occasionally that white noise breaks through the transmission into your reality. To capture and tell the story of Iraq, it's just something you must endure.

"I often think," he said, "that what we do is harder for those who love us than it is for us."

This is Nick Madigan of the Baltimore Sun, Minding the Media on KCRW.



Nick Madigan