Summer 2006

Journalists: On the Subject of Courage

Courage, as these journalists remind us, exposes itself in different guises. It can be found in the wisdom of understanding when danger finally has outweighed the risk. Or it can surface when threats to personal safety lurk but the lessons of training combine with inner strength to push fear aside and persevere. Courage can reside, too, in a journalist's isolation when editorial stands taken shake the foundation of friendship and sever long-held ties to one's community. In this issue, glimpses of such journalistic courage are offered. – Melissa Ludtke, Editor

Journalists: On the Subject of Courage
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Courage as a Story Needing to Be Told (1 comment)
‘Unlike love, which may be an emotion only, courage must manifest itself in action.’
By Lance Morrow
Reflections on Courage: International
When Death Seems Inevitable
‘There was a problem with acceptance of death; I was never in a mood to accept torture.’
By Robert Cox
Climbing to Freedom Word By Word
‘… our ethical and political convictions gave us strength to resist and keep advancing.’
By Jose A. Martinez-Soler
Murder, Threats, Fires and Intimidation in Gambia
An anonymous letter sent to a prominent journalist ‘promised to teach a lesson to journalists who persisted in their negative reporting.’
By Alagi Yorro Jallow
Violence in Liberia Extends to Journalists (1 comment)
‘The government warned that any journalist or news organization that violated the ban would be considered and treated as “rebels.”’
By Isaac Bantu
Dictatorship and Democracy Require Different Kinds of Courage
‘Officials begged the magazine not to pursue the story and then they enticed us with rewards. All efforts to derail our reporting failed.’
By Sunday Dare
Terror Unleashed
An excerpt from a book by Sunday Dare
A War Reporter Tries to Understand What Courage Is (1 comment)
‘Thinking about courage becomes a reflection on humanity.’
By Alexis Sinduhije
When Corporate Managers Nudge News Decisions (1 comment)
The clash of cultures ‘affects editors’ and reporters’ ability to investigate stories and break new ones.’
By Philippa Green
Repressive Actions Give Way to Business Realities
‘Independent newspapers and privately owned TV and radio stations lack the economies of scale necessary to become sustainable businesses.’
By Shyaka Kanuma
Burmese Reporters in Exile Confront Different Risks
Publications must assert independence from ’the international donors upon which they rely for financial support in the absence of a sustainable business model.’
By Aung Zaw
When a Journalist's Voice Is Silenced
In using the Internet to share his views, Li Datong is ‘breaking the wishes of authorities who would prefer he did not speak to the foreign press.’
By Philip J. Cunningham
Words That Made a Difference
Adapted article by Philip J. Cunningham
Journalism’s Triumphant Journey in Nepal
‘With the royal regime’s overt intentions to muzzle the press and radio, journalists have fought back to keep autocracy at bay and the flame of freedom burning.’
Adapted article by Kanak Mani Dixit
Threats Come at Journalists in Pakistan From All Sides
Despite gains in press freedom, news organizations and reporters engage in self-censorship as a strategy to protect themselves and their business.
By Beena Sarwar
Self-Censorship as a Reaction to Murders By Drug Cartels
‘The message of this newsroom assault was obvious: stop messing with drug-trafficking affairs.’
By Raymundo Riva-Palacio
A Quiet Courage
Journalists demonstrate this kind of courage ‘while attention is focused elsewhere.’
By Kathleen Currie
What We Learned About the Courage of Women Journalists
By Judy Woodruff
Truth in the Crossfire
In a brutal attack, ‘my truth … was dealt a mortal wound.’
By Jineth Bedoya Lima
Trauma Lingers After Escaping the Danger
‘My whole world felt wounded during my first months in the United States: I could not sleep and, when I did, it seemed only to dream weird things.’
By Ignacio ‘Nacho’ G√≥mez
Persevering Despite the Dangers
El Tiempo’s investigative editor ‘has become accustomed to receiving floral arrangements and notes sent to regret her death, a form of indirect death threats.’
By Mauricio Lloreda
Death Threats Are Sent to Try to Stop Reporting
‘If I kept writing, I thought, the threats would eventually stop because they weren't working.’
By Kim Bolan
Challenging a Democratic Government's Secrecy
‘Of particular concern to journalists is the lack of support some owners of Canadian news organizations have given as they've tried to contest these policies.’
By Russell Mills
The Courage of Journalists in the Middle East
‘Acting with integrity means honestly probing the causes of the many problems and tensions that define the modern Middle East …’
By Rami G. Khouri
Courage Can Mean Pushing Gradually Against Boundaries in Iran
‘Courage is not always about overcoming immediate dangers or reaching immediate ends.’
By Omid Memarian
Western Correspondents Display Cold War Courage
‘I walked and cried. Death seemed a great relief but so difficult to find .... If only the interrogator would call me. I would admit anything.’
By Larry Heinzerling
A Difficult Journey From Repression to Democracy
Brave journalists who challenge authoritarian regimes often ‘enter a postauthoritarian era full of compromises and new repressions.’
By Ann Cooper
Government Clampdowns on Newspapers Send Reporting Online
In Belarus, with many people not able to use their computers to read about what is happening, ‘Online is not yet a worthy substitute for newspapers.’
By Andrei Khrapavitski
Courage Emerges From the Work Journalists Do
‘… journalists’ courage needs a source, and so far I have recognized three such sources: insanity, lack of any clue, ideals.’
By Aida Cerkez-Robinson
Going to Tell What Others Have Forgotten
A war correspondent seeks out people who live in dangerous war zones to tell their stories and finds that ‘by sharing the fear it helps a lot.’
Interview with Anne Nivat
Assessing the Risks Reporters in Iraq Confront
‘I don’t believe in the journalist as a hero.’
Excerpt From a lecture by John Burns
War Teaches Lessons About Fear and Courage (1 comment)
‘In war zones, I would learn about another feeling, one I have yet to define but seems the opposite of fear ….’
By Cheryl Diaz Meyer
Witnessing War to Send Its Images Home
‘What of our colleagues who have trauma engraved on their psyches?’
Adopted Remarks by Santiago Lyon
When Bearing Witness Overrides a Reporter's Fear (1 comment)
‘… courage is not me, a clunky reporter clutching a notebook and treading on people’s lives, trying to get them to open up their souls.’
By Janine di Giovanni
The Survival Mode of Reporting From a War Zone
‘Our generation is more vocal about trauma we experience than others have been. It can't be avoided when you see this much violence and senseless death.’
Interview with Farnaz Fassihi
When Risks Make a Story Too Dangerous to Tell
An excerpt from an article by Alissa J. Rubin
Teamwork Replaces Ego on the Frontlines of War
‘Reckless correspondents endanger not just themselves but everyone in the close-knit teams that operate in Iraq.’
By Barry Moody
Transforming Anger at Journalists' Deaths Into Action
The International News Safety Institute provides training and support for journalists whose work puts them in danger.
By Rodney Pinder
Seeking Support for News Media Safety From the United Nations
By Rodney Pinder
International News Safety Institute:
By Rodney Pinder
Reflections on Courage: United States
The Forces Threatening Journalism
‘The challenges facing news professionals — and threatening journalism in the public interest — are significant and cannot be avoided.’
By Jay Harris
Telling a Story That No Other Newspaper Will Tell
‘If we don’t print these stories about the casino, who will? People need to see this ….’
By Stephen G. Bloom
H.L. Mencken: Courage in a Time of Lynching (1 comment)
Subscriptions were cancelled, threats made on him and Sunpapers’ staff, and advertisers’ products were boycotted, but Mencken's words were published.
By Marion Elizabeth Rodgers
Heroes in the Tough Transition to Digital News
A long-time newspaper journalist assesses the courage required if essential values are to be retained.
By Davis ‘Buzz’ Merritt
Public Support Wanes, Some Journalists
‘Despite the low esteem in which the news media are held today, some of the best, most courageous news coverage is being produced.’
By Barry Sussman
Courage of the Wise and Patient Kind
‘Our craft demands such courage if we are to find a constructive way through the many difficulties that challenge us today.’
By Geneva Overholser
Investigative Journalism Doesn't Win Many Friends (1 comment)
‘… just about everything has been tried to discourage these kinds of investigations by those who are unhappy with what we find.’
By Charles Lewis
The Center for Public Integrity: What It Is
By Charles Lewis
Seeking Journalistic Courage in Washington, D.C.
‘The disturbing trend is that more and more of these informational offerings are nothing but PR peddled as “news.”’
By Walter Pincus
The Muslim Cartoon Controversy Exposed an Absence of Courage
‘… the continuing timidity of the American media looked increasingly like cowardice, appeasement, or better-you-than-me cynicism.’
Adapted article by Doug Marlette
A Distinction Journalists Like to Ignore
‘Journalists, both then and now, too readily allow fears of a public backlash to inhibit their actions.’
By Laurel Leff
The Embrace of Principled Stands
During the civil rights era, a few newspaper owners, editors and reporters risked their lives and livelihoods by supporting Supreme Court rulings and desegregation.
By Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff
The Difficult Isolation Courage Can Bring
Newspaper boycotts forced ‘the need for courage beyond the physical ….’
By Hodding Carter III
Editorial Pages: Why Courage Is Hard to Find
The Star Tribune published strong editorials about Bush administration truth telling when few other papers did, and an editor there explores some reasons why.
By Jim Boyd
Risking Relationships as a Measure of Courage
‘Questioning the reasons for the war meant not only going against the President's policy but against the beliefs of many people I knew and respected.’
By Sheryl McCarthy
A Local Newspaper Endures a Stormy Backlash (10 comments)
‘We had the opportunity to tell the story of powerless people who'd been hurt by powerful people who counted on the public never learning what they'd done.’
By Dean Miller
Courage: What Network News Needs Now
‘Network news spent decades establishing its solid credentials. Now is no time for it to lose its nerve.’
By Bill Wheatley
The Road Traveled From Journalism to Jail
‘What is absent in journalism is not courage but consciousness and compassion.’
By David A. Sylvester
Two Sides of Courage (1 comment)
‘Only after I left the foreign battlefields and returned to the United States did I discover the quiet part of courage in what it is I try to do.’
By Eli Reed
Curator's Corner
What We Share About Courage
By Bob Giles
Nieman Notes
Covering the Sago Mine Disaster (2 comments)
How a game of ‘whisper down the coal mine’ ricocheted around the world.
By Frank Langfitt
Conscience and Integrity in Journalism
The Louis M. Lyons Award, given by Nieman classes, recognizes journalists who display these elements of moral courage.
By Jim Doyle