Reporting for a Divided Nation

I came across this quote recently in The Week. It’s from From Why I Decided War Reporting Was No Longer Worth the Risk by Tom A. Peter for The New Republic.

I’ve often wondered about the risks that reporters, myself included, take in order to cover war. In the wake of [American Journalist James Foley‘s] death, these questions weigh on me more heavily than ever… Covering wars for a polarized nation has destroyed the civic mission I once found in journalism. 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?

I have a lot of respect for most professional journalists, but I can’t deny that I’d probably feel the same way if I were Peter.

7 thoughts on “Reporting for a Divided Nation

  1. It seems anymore that most of us don’t want to be informed so much as we want to be told that we’re right. When did that happen? Is there a way to fix it?


  2. I’m sad to lose journalists who refuse to be pudits, but I understand where he’s coming from. It must be awful to do something that noble and dangerous for people who refuse to value your contribution.


  3. Totally agree. On the other hand, however, i find it really difficult anymore to discern whether what I’m hearing via some news outlets is the work of true, in-the-field journalists, or just some filler content a junior-year English major wrote for their part time job. I wish i had the time to research every author’s background, but it would do a great service to the public if media outlets would not position critical news stories from dedicated professionals right next to what essentially amounts to op eds. I’m a big girl and can handle the truth, I just need to know it is.


  4. The full article mentions this, but being a reporter has become kind of a crap job. Low paying, no stability, odd hours, a lack of respect — so lots of smart people are starting to turn away for better options.


  5. I don’t mean to be an ass about it, but the title of the article is Why I Decide WAR Reporting Was No Longer Worth the Risk.

    And I think the best response, better than I could do, was left by a commenter and fellow war reporter:

    But if journalists stop covering this story then we leave a vacuum that will be filled by ignorance and indifference and propaganda on all sides. Each of us must stop when we are ready. We must be very honest with ourselves about why. But please don’t allow the indifference or scepticism of some be your guiding light.


  6. Thanks Stacey, I corrected it. And of course we need journalists on the ground in these situations, which is why there are so many international laws in place to protect them. Those laws just haven’t been working in many cases, which is why the risk is especially galling when one returns home not just to ignorance, but to disrespect. I’m glad there are professionals still willing to take the risk, and upset that some of those professionals aren’t being afforded our national gratitude.


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