Sunday, March 13, 2005


War reporters

by Mimmo Candito, President of Reporters sans Frontieres - Italy

The bitter debate which has opened in the political world, after the dramatic conclusion to the kidnapping of Giuliana Sgrena, at this point deeply involves the role of journalism. To the many of us who are in conflict areas and who continue to dedicate a large part of our commitment, the description of the war reporter as an irresponsible or ingenuous person who runs into risks that do not merit that commitment, strikes us as being far from reality. It is true: today journalists have become even more of a target than ever, because information is the most powerful weapon that a "power" can have in its arsenal, useful as it is to the conquest of consensus, or, at any rate, to control, in times of war as well as in times of peace. In these days a debate has opened to individuate the forms of intervention that can take into account the new qualities of this threat. Yet, never on the part of any of us was it possible to imagine a journalism that is removed from work in the field, from a direct relationship with reality (be it Baghdad or Palermo).

All of the support apparatus that can be imagined (technological or logistic) must however be sustained by the direct intervention of the journalist/reporter in the reading and interpretation of reality. This is to avoid the conditioning by those in power who who show themselves to be very well equipped to subtract themselves from an effective check by society.

For this we perceive - in the exhortation of the Italian government to not return to Iraq - the legitimate and comforting preoccupation for a risk that could become too high; and yet, we reaffirm that it comes down only to ourselves the right to decide where, when and in what manner we can measure our own project with the concrete conditions that are in act on the terrain of conflict. We have even read that the free choice of information must be judged with the number of copies sold. In this case, the risk of a progressive downslide of the processes of knowledge isn't only of importance to journalists, but it is an issue which involves the entire society.

translated by thecutter (who claims patrimony only of the errors!)


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