Thursday, May 18, 2006

One gutsy reporter

The Washington Post profiles CBS News' Lara Logan. Some excerpts:
NEW YORK -- The words erupt in machine-gun bursts as Lara Logan strafes the critics who say she and other journalists in Iraq are ignoring the signs of progress there.

"That's complete nonsense," Logan says. "I tell the American commanders all the time: When we can get in our cars and drive to the opening of a store and interview people on camera without fear of being killed, or getting everyone involved with us killed, the good-news stories will be told."


Two weeks ago, Logan was embedded with a U.S. military unit in Ramadi when the Marine walking just in front of her was shot by a sniper during an ambush. She did a stand-up moments later, even as the gun battle raged. "It was distressing," she says matter-of-factly, as if acknowledging fear might be viewed as a sign of weakness. "You have to be professional. You can't fall apart in front of the Marines."

Viewers of the "CBS Evening News" also saw Logan in a combat helmet, crouching alongside members of the Marines' Kilo Company as gunners exchanged fire with Iraqi insurgents in a deserted building nearby. Some CBS executives have grown concerned for her safety, believing that she takes too many risks.


Determined to get into Afghanistan, Logan flew to Russia but still needed a Tajik visa. She found the head of the Tajikistan airline and hired his nephew as a translator, which somehow facilitated her paperwork. Traveling with the Northern Alliance rebels as the U.S.-backed war raged on, Logan, who had been a CBS Radio stringer, began making television appearances and caught the eye of Jeff Fager, then executive producer of "60 Minutes II."

"I was so impressed by her understanding of the story and her ability to tell it," Fager says. "I just thought, wow, she's really got something special."


Logan, who shoots some of her own footage, has been embedded with the military several times and says that many soldiers in Iraq "pour their hearts out to you because you're a woman and you're sympathetic." Logan says she would never report such conversations.

She disputes the notion that U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq are going well, noting that one Iraqi contractor was afraid to take her to a reconstruction project out of fear for his life. Such a fatality, she says, would be "a line at the end of a New York Times piece, another Iraqi killed that no one cares about."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is fascinating. I think it is unbelievably difficult to "tag along" with combat forces on the move. Amazingly brave.
There stretches quite a chasm, exists quite a paradox, the way that the soldier is viewed—heroic and respected—and that of a war corespondant. The souls that do not carry weapons, willfully step into in harm's way, offer a compassionate ear, and tell the tales of the soldiers' life and death showdowns—fall prey to a hostile audience that victimizes the messenger. The courage of the reporter dutifully seeking a truth from the war is not hailed in high regard because of the sour news that is inevitable from conflict. There are few, if any, memorials to the fallen ranks of war reporters. Should there be?
Our species loves to tell stories of war, even though the more perspectives we see of it, the less we desire to fight. But it seems our nature to be pulled constantly toward tragedy—always attempting to convince ourselves that the death and killing is noble and good—and always worth it. And any voice that questions that faith aloud is a threat.

...sorry for waxing so much, I just felt inspired.

9:33 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

No need to apologize. It's one of those stories (and individuals) that has a significant impact.

10:59 PM  

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