Journalist and war correspondent Marie Colvin died this February in Syria, refusing to leave the rebel city of Homs in the face of a major offensive by Bashar Assad’s forces. Here we light a metaphorical candle to Marie, acknowledging that much art and politics is dependent on people like her.
It has been suggested by a French colleague who left Homs days before Marie’s death, that the attack on the media centre was expected and deliberate.* Considering Marie had lost an eye many years before in Sri Lanka where she believed she was explicitly targeted as a journalist, this couldn’t have seemed unlikely to her.
Patrick Pittman brought Marie Colvin’s body of work into our research on PROMPTER a few years ago. She was a contemporary, real life example of the uncompromising journalist – taking extreme risks and showing unflinching human solidarity, and reporting hard, brutal truths. In the loose canon of pedagogues here being assembled, Marie sets a bar we likely won’t reach about commitment and personal sacrifice and bravery.
And this is her talking about killed journalists
“Many of you here must have asked yourselves, or be asking yourselves now, is it worth the cost in lives, heartbreak, loss? Can we really make a difference?
I faced that question when I was injured. In fact one paper ran a headline saying, has Marie Colvin gone too far this time? My answer then, and now, was that it is worth it…
In an age of 24/7 rolling news, blogs and twitters, we are on constant call wherever we are. But war reporting is still essentially the same – someone has to go there and see what is happening. You can’t get that information without going to places where people are being shot at, and others are shooting at you. The real difficulty is having enough faith in humanity to believe that enough people be they government, military or the man on the street, will care when your file reaches the printed page, the website or the TV screen.
We do have that faith because we believe we do make a difference.
And we could not make that difference – or begin to do our job – without the fixers, drivers, and translators, who face the same risks and die in appalling numbers. Today we honour them as much as the front line journalists who have died in pursuit of the truth. They have kept the faith as we who remain must continue to do.”