A small tribute to the photojournalists killed in Libya
Four New York Times reporters are also missing in action.
Several months prior to these photographers’ death, I had lunch with a young photojournalist who had been among those beaten up during the demonstration in Egypt. I listened, fearful for his safety, as he told me about some of his plans for his next expedition. In another conversation with a second photographer who had taken pictures of me for Financial Times UK, we talked of his adventures in dangerous areas in the Middle East and the risks he was willing to take to get his stories. I offered to share any contacts I had if he decides to go to Afghanistan or Iraq. I suddenly saw his eyes in the handsome face of one of the missing journalists. I wonder where my friend is now and if he is safe.
Since I read Dispatches in the 1960′s I’ve admired war journalists and photographers. At times I’ve even gone so far as to fancy myself as one of them although I don’t think I have the courage to do their jobs – racing sometimes alone or with their translators, carrying cameras and recorders and paper and pens but no weapons, through firefights and bombings, death and destruction…
Just yesterday, I was showing the movie The Killing Fields to members of one of my classes. I’m watching the rest of the film here at home tonight.
Soon, as I recall, the journalist’s translator, Tram, will be depicted in the film, running through the rice fields, falling among the hundreds and thousands of bodies killed by the Kymer Rouge. That image has been implanted in my head since the film came out sometimes in the 1980′s.
I don’t know how many combat translators die while supporting their patrons’ efforts to cover the news and helping to get them out of jams that require native cultural expertise. I know there are more than a few.
The translators are the unspoken heroes along with the journalists and photographers who risk their lives to bring us news and attempt to maintain the transparency inside and outside the U.S. that is required to maintain a democracy and be informed about world events.
Thank you Chris and Tim. I am sorry for your families and close friends. Your deaths are a loss to all of us in New York, in the U.S. and around the world.