This story by New York Times executive editor Bill Keller is a great explanation of exactly what it is that makes me want to go back to places like Iraq. It isn’t about hanging it out there and putting my life on the line, it’s about realizing that there are stories out there so terrible no one wants to hear them. Those are exactly the stories that ought to be told.
Particularly with photographs, journalism from war zones can redirect the future. Our lives, here in the United States, are pretty easy. Life here is good, even in the worst of times. It’s easy to forget that rape is used as an offensive strategy in the Congo, or that Mexicans are dying every day in a war fueled by Americans’ drug habits. Reporters have the job to go where others won’t, to find out what isn’t obvious and make it known. Sometimes those places are courtrooms, sometimes it is the battlefront. The reminders, however, have to happen, because otherwise it’s too easy to forget.
The article did a good job getting that across. I’m no daredevil; I’ve remarkably conservative, actually. But those stories need to be told, and I’m not going to leave it up to chance that they do.