OPC Forum: What Risks Are Worth Taking to Get the Story?
Thursday, 10 March 2011
The news that Lara Logan, CBS's chief foreign correspondent, had suffered a "sustained, brutal" sexual assault and beating in Cairo's Tahrir Square triggered a surge of commentary in the press, the social media and the blogosphere.
There's no question that women have earned their place on the front lines of journalism. But the Logan case and other brutalities in the recent uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa raise legitimate questions about what should be asked of journalists in perilous situations, and what they should ask of themselves. Of course no good reporter wants to become part of a story he or she is covering. Nevertheless, risk is inevitable in chasing many important stories.
The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Pearl knew he was taking chances in meeting the terrorists who killed him; he thought the story, if he got it, would be worth the risk. But no one thinks less of Western reporters in Iraq or Afghanistan who send local stringers to cover scenes where Western faces might provoke attack. Do you really add enough to the story when you get down among the mob in Tahrir Square to justify the danger? Should you perhaps take a bye next time?
So far, most of the comments have been from the general public, not from journalists. We'd like to know what OPC members think. Please post your comments over the next two weeks, then we'll sum up the results in a story.
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