The reputation of the press took a terrible, and
well-deserved, bashing during the recent Leveson Enquiry, but news of Marie
Colvin’s death in Syria
ought to redress the balance. Hers is an
untimely death but a timely reminder that not all journalists are sleazy
telephone hackers in mindless pursuit of so-called celebrities.
She was among the bravest of the brave in what can be
a genuinely dangerous profession, a stellar example of those who put their
lives on the line in the search for truth in places where the language of the government
is usually expressed in lies, often backed up with violence.
Marie Colvin, a correspondent with the Sunday Times, was killed in Homs, Syria
yesterday when a shell exploded near the building where the journalists who were
covering the insurrection stayed. It has
been suggested that government forces used telephone traffic intercepts to
target the building. If true, it is
merely the latest despicable act by a regime that knows nothing of the rule of
law, only the reign of terror.
Colvin was in her fifties, by no means old, but an age
when someone in her profession, and with a career of putting herself in harm’s
way in trouble spots around the world, perhaps ought to have been thinking of
cushier assignments. Not her. She was made of sterner stuff. She wore a black eye- patch to prove it,
having lost an eye in Sri
Lanka in 2001 covering the Tamil revolt. More recently she had been reporting from other
countries involved in the revolts of the so-called Arab Spring. Clearly, she was well aware of the risks, and
took them anyway.
Cynics who can find nothing good in the practice of
journalism might call her devotion to danger bravado rather than bravery. She herself acknowledged that a fine line can
be drawn between the two. If it was
nothing more than bravado, she paid for it dearly. Even cynics will have to concede that death
is a high price to pay for a story.
She is not the first to die for her profession, and
it’s certain she won’t be the last.
Cynics, save your bile for the gutter press.