Sunday, March 27, 2011

"The Air Was Full Of Metal"

The world has been riveted for the last two months on the news coming out of North Africa and the Middle East. Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and most recently Libya, have seen changes the likes of which the world hasn’t witnessed since the end of World War II. Some of have said it’s the last convulsions of the Ottoman Empire (because the maps for the modern Middle East were drawn by the British and French after they defeated the Turkish Ottoman Empire in World War I). 
These revolutions have been dangerous for the western journalists who are covering them. 

Lucas Mebrouk Dolega, French photographer on assignment for the European agency epa was killed in Tunisia, shot in the face by security personnel. 
In Egypt, Wally Nell, a South African photographer living in Cairo and represented by ZUMA Press, was shot in the back. CNN’s Anderson Cooper and CBS’ Lara Logan were both assaulted in Egypt. 
In Libya, four New York Times journalists were captured and repeatedly assaulted by the regime. Their harrowing first person account of the ordeal is the kind of stuff that keeps journalists in conflict zones (and their families at home) up at night. In a separate incident, Joe Raedle, a Getty photographer and friend from our days in El Paso, was also taken prisoner by the regime along with two other AFP journalists he was traveling with. They were released and are now safely out of Libya. 
The video at the top of the page features John Moore, also a Getty photographer, talking about covering the uprisings in the region. When he says it’s the most dangerous fighting he’s ever seen, he knows what he’s talking about, he’s worked in some of the world’s most dangerous places, like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and now Libya. 
Most US newspaper readers probably don’t know his name, but they almost certainly know his work - he was covering Benazir Bhutto’s election campaign in Pakistan in 2007, on the day she was assassinated. The photos that ran in newspapers around the world the next day were his. 
At a time when we take news and information for granted, especially from conflict zones far from home, it’s important to remember that people are putting themselves in great danger to bring you the news.