Modern war reporting fuels war at home.
We’ve all seen the videos.
Bald, sullen faced men sporting shackles, orange jumpsuits and fearful eyes. Next to them, knife wielding beasts, dressed in black and holding an executioner’s stance. The videos end the same– a knife to the throat and the end of a life.
This is not a scene from a horror movie or an incessant nightmare. This scene is ripped from the headlines and showcases the spoils of war–and war reporting.
War reporting is a double edged sword. On one hand, it exposes the gruesome realities of war and allows the public to access information about war that may otherwise be hidden. On the other hand, it exposes the gruesome realities of war and allows the public to access information about war that may otherwise be hidden.
This access creates tension and raises questions. Is the public really ready to see war for what it is? Are journalists really prepared to report from the war zone? As of late, war reporting is tantamount to serving in the combat zone. Journalists aren’t trained in battle or armed with guns; their pens are their swords and their nerves of steel, their armor.
The beheadings of journalists are now news staples, leading the nation into a moral equivalent of a civil war. While some view paying off terrorists in exchange for reporters (and other hostages) as a feasible option, others view it as a cop-out of sorts. When we negotiate with terrorists, the terrorists are winning.
But this is not their fight. It is the fight of the war reporter, the bruised and jaded war reporter who does his/her job with an obscene amount of bravery. Their dedication to the public’s right to know oftentimes dwarfs their fear and relationship to danger.
When a war reporter is shackled, kneeling and staring death in the face, the terrorists are not winning. They are parading their foul confidence, but they are not winning.
The war reporters, (the wounded and weary war reporters) are winning. And we, who reap the benefits of their diligent labor, are winning too.