I think most journalists get into this business knowing that they may find themselves in dangerous situations at some point in their careers.
Part of a journalist’s job is to shed light on wrongdoing and expose hypocrisy in high places, to evaluate situations and present them in a truthful manner, regardless of the mob mentality that is one of the most counterproductive aspects of human nature.
That function is guaranteed to make enemies. Or, at the very least, elicit a few angry phone calls and righteously indignant emails.
For a small group of extremely talented reporters and photographers, part of the job is deliberately going into warzones to share with the rest of the world that harsh reality. God bless them.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Associated Press’s Anja Niedringhaus, photographer, and Kathy Gannon, reporter, since Niedringhaus was killed and Gannon wounded in Afghanistan by a rogue policeman just more than a week ago.
I hadn’t heard of either before the incident in which the officer shouted “Allahu Akbar” and opened fire on the women’s vehicle. They were reportedly traveling as part of a convoy that was delivering election ballots to a government center.
Add their names to the roll of Americans who have shed blood in the second most pointless war in our short history.
But I’m sure they both, as longtime war correspondents, recognized they could be killed while doing their jobs. Not long before their deaths, Agence France-Presse reporter Sardar Ahmad, his wife, and two of his three children were killed by members of the Taliban in a gun attack on a Kabul hotel. That’s the same Taliban, mind you, that the U.S. supposedly defeated during the war, and the same Taliban that Afghan president Hamid Karzai has been trying to pacify and bring back into the fold through dialogue.
We need people like those three journalists. The American people are depending on reporters like them to show us the truth about what is being done in our names, with our money, in faraway places. That same fortitude is also essential for telling the truth about what is happening here at home.
My guess is that Niedringhaus, Gannon and Ahmad would agree with me.
Michael Gebelein is managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.