Why Journalists Risk Their Lives to Cover Iraq (B&C)

Seven war-zone vets on coping, surviving and telling the great tale

Reported by John M. Higgins and Allison Romano Edited by Rob Edelstein -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/5/2006
"Journalists Killed on Duty: 73." This is how the independent Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) sums up the casualties of war among the print and electronic press in Iraq.


We spoke to several of those who have been most affected: the members of the press who risk their lives in Iraq. While their experiences differ, they remain united in one thing at least: a strong sense of duty to report this most vital of news stories.
Michael Ware
CNN correspondent; previously Time magazine’s Baghdad bureau chief
Michael Ware: I was once grabbed by an al-Zarqawi organization and readied for execution. [Covering a story in September 2004, Ware was pulled from his car. A gun was held to the back of his head, and, after the pin was pulled, a live grenade was held against him. After a 15-minute negotiation between opposing forces, he was released.] It happened in the short course of an afternoon, but it felt like a lifetime. Fortunately, I was able to get out of that situation and return. That took a long time to get over. [But] I stayed in-country.

Ware: Clearly, it’s very hard to distill into one story the reality of life on the ground. Many of the soldiers I was with recently in Ramadiyah feel that people back home are turning off to an extent. They feel they’re fighting this war in a vacuum. That’s where you see the true strength of these men. They continue to do their jobs professionally and bravely.

Ware: It’s being able to watch history unfolding. It’s as though we’ve been given a front-row ticket to history. Take the battle of Tall ’Afar, on the Syrian border. That’s where the Iraqi and U.S. forces took back the city. I was one of two fortunate journalists to see that take place.