Nothing is done well without a certain degree of dedication.
For a vivid and compelling example simply look at Bob Woodruff, the co-anchor of ABC’s “World News Tonight” and his cameraman Doug Vogt. This past weekend the two were riding in an Iraqi convoy in the town of Taji, just north of Baghdad.
In what has become an all-too-common occurrence, a roadside bomb, or an improvised explosive device (IED) hit the convoy. The vehicle was then subjected to small arms fire from Iraqi insurgents, according to CNN.com.
Woodruff and Vogt sustained head wounds from shrapnel and Vogt suffered a broken shoulder. Both are in stable condition after undergoing head surgery at the U.S military hospital in Balad, Iraq as I write this. After a short stay in a U.S. medical facility in Germany, both men were flown to the United States on Tuesday.
The impressive thing is that the duo could have reported on the war from a cushy motel in Kuwait or from the U.S medical center in Landstuhl, Germany √¢?” or even from the relative safety of Baghdad’s “Green Zone.” Instead they embedded with the 4th Infantry Division and went that extra mile to try to portray as accurate a picture of every day Iraq as possible. In other words, they were professional journalists.
The dedication that put them in harms way was not a fluke. During the initial invasion of Iraq, Woodruff reported from the front lines as an embedded journalist with the First Marine Division and 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
An attorney who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, Woodruff has covered the FBI, ATF, the civil war in Kosovo, and the NATO bombing of Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
After Sept. 11 he was among the first Western reporters in Pakistan and Afghanistan, reporting on the fall of the Taliban.
He received the Alfred I. Dupont Award and the George Foster Peabody Award, two of the highest honors in broadcast journalism. He was recently named co-anchor, along with Elizabeth Vargas, of ABC’s World News Tonight, replacing long-time anchor Peter Jennings, who died of lung cancer last August.
Vogt, considered a master of his own art, is an Emmy award-winning news cameraman and journalist who has covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Croatia, Bosnia and Somalia.
Woodruff and Vogt have done their job well, mostly due to the dedication they have to their profession, to themselves, to their employers, and most importantly to their audience.
The constant stream of reports regarding the injuries of these two men reveals much about the state of the war and how it is conveyed here at home.
Why has the media devoted so much coverage to the attack and the duo’s subsequent injuries?
The answer is simple.
Bob Woodruff is in the American living room every night.
If you are Pfc. Nathan P. Brown, a 21-year-old resident of South Glens Falls, New York you don’t have that distinction.
Brown was killed April 11, 2004 when his patrol was ambushed in Samarra, Iraq.
Most of us have fallen into the dangerous trap of numbness and insensitivity when it comes to news regarding the mounting death toll of U.S. soldiers.
So when you hear that eight American soldiers were killed in an attack near Mosul your immediate reaction is probably “That’s too bad” and you move onto the next thing.
In contrast, we do remember the name Daniel Pearl, the murdered journalist of the Wall Street Journal and the name Jill Carroll, the recently abducted freelance reporter from the Christian Science Monitor.
We identify with them.
We remember them.
They serve as flares, reminding us of all of the death and destruction in our midst, particularly in that part of the world.
They remind us when we fail to accept the truth.
That is not a condemnation of our humanity. It’s a fact that we need to be cognizant of.
If nothing else this event has made it apparent that though the news media has done an admirable job in covering the events of the war, they have been lacking in showing us those people who have fought it. Part of that responsibility lies with the Bush administration who has gone to great lengths to prohibit news coverage or images of coffins or fallen soldiers.
Woodruff and Vogt earn their paychecks by illuminating the black hole that Iraq has become.
Soldiers like Brown earn it by living √¢?” and dying — in that very same hell.
Without journalists we would likely know nothing about Brown, and the thousands like him, the status of the mission that has already been “accomplished,” and the use √¢?” or misuse — of billions of American taxpayers dollars.
“The reason we do it is we believe with a passion that this is a story that is very important,” CNN journalist Nic Robertson said about his experience in Iraq, “that it has huge and long-reaching implications, and we’re interested in the human dynamic.”
As college students it is perfectly understandable why we may not identify with or dwell on the fact that soldiers are dying. Though many are our age, our world is so different from the one they live in.
But while we may not identify with them, that does not mean we can forget that 2,242 U.S. soldiers have died in this war (Reuters, as of Jan. 30, 2006).
And while we cannot possibly file away the death of every single soldier, we mustn’t forget that each is equally important and equally damaging to our country.
As former president Herbert Hoover once said we cannot allow our minds to work like the sundial, “recording only sunshine,” instead we need to remember the darkness and constantly learn from it.