The beheading of yet another American journalist calls attention to the enormous risks these people take to bring us news. But it is becoming increasingly clear their bravery – and now, their sacrifice – is little understood or appreciated by much of the American public.
Tom A. Peter, a freelance journalist who covered the war in Syria and was once kidnapped there, reacted to the beheading death of journalist Tom Foley last month with an article in New Republic titled, “Why I decided war reporting was no longer worth the risk.”
Peter cites the low opinion Americans have of journalists, thanks to political polarization in this country.
“Covering wars for a polarized nation has destroyed the civic mission I once found in journalism,” Peter writes. “Why risk it all to get the facts for people who increasingly seem only to seek out the information they want and brand the stories and facts that don’t conform to their opinions as biased or inaccurate?”
It is difficult not to be discouraged, Peter writes, if you risk your life for readers who wonder if you endure the hazards just to support a hidden agenda.
Peter concludes: “I met Jim Foley once or twice working in the Middle East, but knew him mostly by his reputation: A friendly, laidback guy who could make people laugh even in the most dire situations. Now that he’s gone, I wish I could believe that such an extraordinary person died striving to inform the public yearning to know the truth. It’s harder to accept what really happened, which is that he died while people eagerly formed opinions on his profession and the topics he covered without bothering to read the stories he put in front of them.”