Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 14, Tuesday September 2, 2003







War Journalism: The voices of the Frontline

Every now and then some sort of war or armed conflict breaks out in some part of this world. And living far away from that particular place where the occurrence of this violence takes place, we get to read all about its horror and devastation through newspaper, Internet or hear and witness all the madness and the barbarism of the war through TV. Thanks to all those brave journalists and photojournalists who bring us the news and pictures of these war, which eventually allows us to have glimpses of the most brutal realities of so called human civilization.

Armed with camera and pen, these war journalists or better known as war correspondents are like the only window of a netherworld where underneath all the debris of death, waste and destruction they search for veracities that would give the world a hope for a change for the better. Whether out of a sense of duty or to enhance their career or the love of that adrenaline rush, these journalists would dodge all the shells and bullets for the truth every time mankind's starkest realities occur. From the 9 year old Vietnamese girl photographed in 1972, running down the road naked and screaming, to the more recent young Ali of Iraq who lost both his arms as an US missile struck his house and killed all the members of his family, these war journalists and photographers are providing us the proof of the insanity and the evilness that war brings and allows us to descry the puzzle of diplomacy, war and the hoax of global politics.

What makes these people go to document all the death and destruction while constantly risking his/her own life? Yes, some have orders to be there and others have the "duty" to report. But above all the most crucial factor that drives these men and women towards these "hells" is probably the will to account the actuality and the holy desire to put an end to this madness by reporting these "actualities" to the billions of faces of this world. Undoubtedly a very tough profession but more than that it is a significantly responsible profession. Because unlike any other form of journalism, this one deals first hand with the most brutal and darkest animal instincts of human being that threatens to swallow all the good that there is. Whether from a strong sense of duty or the passion for truth or the dedication and determination to make a difference, these journalists pick up their pen, notebook and camera in order to reveal and report the facts behind these bitter conflicts. And among these pressmen there are these freelance men and women of journalism who mostly reflect the stern firmness of mind that is inspired by the inner righteous spirit and the motivation to bring a mending shift by projecting the truth that lies beneath the remains and ruins.

Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, captured in Afghanistan by Talibans and later killed.

In a war it is never easy to come across the truth and then report it to the world. Besides various political and military interference, personal influence on the war and its reporting makes this job undoubtedly a very challenging and hard one. Every party that is involved in a military conflict would want to control the media in order to achieve their war aims, and the most striking factor that influences the war reporting is when one's nation is at war, where reporting eventually becomes an extension of the war effort. As a result this sensitive reporting in the form of most serious journalism often turn out to be propaganda, hoax and eventually the fabrication of truth. The risk is always there but despite numerous constraints and controversies there are some blocks of press that genuinely stand virtuous by revealing the gruesome realities and veracities of any international military conflict. And these press figures, mostly constituted by the freelance journalists and photographers, are making the difference by telling the actual tales of conflict and the stories of its victims that usually go unheard and unreported.

But this work on battle fields and zones of conflicts do have psychological and physical impact on the war journalists, as this profession involves dealing with incredible amount of mental pressure, stress and physically challenging situations. These journalists most often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and psychological distress. The most vulnerable ones are the photographers who tend to suffer more than the reporters, not to mention the risk of their own lives while covering a battle. It is often that we hear journalists got killed or severely wounded in some battle zone. Amazingly these courageous people of press still go running towards the zones of conflict and face deadly situations in order to get a glimpse of truth.

Experts say, in a war "Truth" is the first casualty. And what these journalists do is simply nurse this truth, properly medicate it so that the wounds don't deteriorate and later releases it right onto the face of human civilization to document it's substantiality and to learn about its loss, pain, devastation and demise.

By Obaidur Rahman

Reader's Chit

Let's DIE to live

It happens very often that we feel like dying right at that very moment. Generally, the reason behind this is, we are extremely hurt for some reason or we feel remorse over some dreadful deed we have done. Sometimes death seems to be a relief, sometimes a remedy. I guess almost everyone has got this feeling at least once in his/her lifetime

As this is more of a common feeling, we can easily identify to this. But do we usually identify to the intense urge of living on that often occurs to us? You may say that generally, unless anguished, everyone wants to live; so what's new? Yes, undoubtedly, we humans have a general urge of staying alive. It comes from our sense of belonging; it comes because of our desire to be with the loved ones. The secondary reason can be that we want to live more and more to enjoy the earthly possessions and pleasures that we amass here. But, this general urge should not be labeled as feeling in particular as this is more of an instinct. It is innate, always there as a part of us. As a matter of fact, it is such an incessant feeling that we often fail to identify when we reach the sudden extremity.

This extremity is an intense abrupt urge of staying alive. It is extreme as it is instantaneous. Surprisingly, we don't need gigantic reasons to feel that. As a matter of fact, more often this feeling comes from the little desires that we have. The desires that are very tiny with respect to the size of their intricacy, but enormous with the weight of contentment if fulfilled. They are simple and abrupt desires. They seek fulfillment in near future, not the distant one. Moreover, they get easily fulfilled. Still, their lure is so intense that we just can't afford to die without making them happen. Doesn't that happen very often, that, all of a sudden you feel that you can't even imagine dying before seeing a loved one; or before listening to a particular song; or may be even before watching a long awaited movie? What do you do to fulfill those desires? Perhaps, you go to the next room; or, turn on the CD player; or, maybe taking a bit more effort, you buy a ticket after waiting in a long queue; as simple as that. But, no matter how easily accomplished, they are the boosting force of life; maybe for just an instant. Then again, it's an instant that took the universe to get created, isn't it?

Personally I believe nobody wants to live forever. We just want to pass our part of eternity meaningfully. These tiny possible desires, wishes, urges, make that happen. They make the true moments of understanding what we mean by being alive. They give us the true essence of life.

These experiences become part of the memories. Time elapses. At times, we sit to dig into the memories. But, unfortunately, our general tendency is to dig out the bad patches, bitter times, harsh experiences. We are less frequent in hunting the treasure of the fascinating reminiscences that made us want to live more and more.

Life is an assortment of despair, joy, ecstasy, agony and what not. At times, we live to die and there are times when we just 'die' to live. Let's not just hold ourselves more to our sour recollections. Let's cherish the moments that force us to live. Let's try to live with the feelings that drive us to live on. Let's pay the due to the feeling of being alive. Death may ultimately conquer life; but no doubt, life is way greater than death. Vive la vie!!!

By Dimitri Daniels



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