The images live in my mind, watching reporters put their life on the line. The tall weeds acting as a wall, separating the reporter from the carnage that was occurring before the lens. The sounds of the helicopter engines were so loud that the reporter had to yell into the microphone. That was how I learned about the Vietnam Conflict. It was because of those correspondents risking all that I decided I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to be that reporter, dodging bullets (and bombs), putting my life on the line to get out the truth.
It is reported that 63 news correspondents lost their lives during the Vietnam Conflict. Some of those deaths were execution style, others from stray artillery fire, while, at least one, French Journalist, Michel Laurent, was killed while trying to rescue another correspondent. http://pathofhistory.com/2012/05/28/michel-laurent-on-one-of-our-photographs/. Laurent, a photographer for the Gamma news Agency, was the last correspondent killed during the Vietnam Conflict.
Reporters, photographers and their support staff have always been in the middle of dangerous situations. The New York Times posted an article in 2006 that reported the following statistics: From 2003-2006, 83 reporters and their support staff had been killed in Iraq, 17 were killed in Korea and 69 in World War II. The desire to report the news, while relatively safe, has always held risks. Reporting the news is not always about the cute babies and feel good events; sometimes it is reporting on natural disasters, or man-made disasters. Journalists, in all genres, put their lives out their, even when they do not expect it.
But who would think that media specialists would be risking their lives by just showing up to the office. That is what happened today with the terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo, a French Satirical Magazine. At this writing, twelve have died and the terrorist were still at large. French police described the scene as “carnage” and the attackers were heard yelling “Allahu Akbar”, which is an Islamic phrase meaning “God is Great!” (Multiple sources for this information, USA Today, NBC News, Fox News)
It is one thing to consciously put your life out there based on the story you are going to cover, a natural disaster, or war or conflict. It is a totally different affair to be attacked and killed because of a satirical editorial cartoon, or a controversial story that was objectively written, in the security of your office.
I am an American! I believe in our First Amendment right which allows freedom of press: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.. – See more at: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html#sthash.nXPWiqsw.dpuf
It gives me a heavy heart to know that, in these modern times, people still are losing their lives for expressing their opinion, in a controlled media. I know that there are exceptions to every case, but I believe that opinions are opinions and facts are facts. Charlie Hebdo does not discriminate; no one is immune to their satirical cartoons. While I do not like what they draw (it is very sexual and inappropriate), they have left nothing untouched. There have been cartoons on the Pope, on the French President, the British and the reason for the latest attack, the Muslim faith. I have not read of an attack initiated by the Pope or the President of France against Charlie Hebdo. (I have purposely not put a link to the Charlie Hebdo website. It truly is not something I would read and will not promote it. This is about an injustice to the employees by their senseless murders)
Rewind a few weeks, and you have the controversy with the movie The Interview. North Korean President, Kim Jong Un threatened retaliation on Sony Pictures if The Interview was released. The Sony hackers, reported to be from the North Korean government, threatened movie goers, the studio itself and the United States if the movie was released. After much consideration, Sony did release the movie online and in independent movie theaters. The online and VOD release earned 31 million dollars in two weeks. They will earn six more dollars from me today as I plan on renting it this afternoon, in support of a fiction movie that someone did not like.
I am a Christian woman. The Christian faith is challenged all of the time but you do not see me taking up arms to tell someone they are wrong. Some how, I do not think God finds violence the best way to handle these situations. I myself, am not without controversy. While I do not know for a fact, I am pretty sure that a relative of mine unfriended and blocked me on Facebook because my words did not set well with them. I thought this person had gotten off of Facebook (which does happen). But after some research, I found this person’s name on the FB page of other relatives. I put out facts, disputing their opinion, which is what a responsible individual would do to squash rumors and editorials represented as factual news. Because of that, I have been cut off from this family, which is sad. I really enjoy this person and their family. I do miss seeing the family posts.
But back to the news…it is apparent that the trenches run from the war-torn countries in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and so many more, to the desks of cartoonists in Paris and to the big screen. Too many think that violence is the end all to silencing that facts and opinions of others. One of my favorite quotes comes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I have used it a lot in the past six months and I end it here today:
Find peace in your heart and the ignorance of others cannot weaken your fortitude.