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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Untallied Costs

This is from an article written by friend of Marla, Catherine Philp of the London Times. Go read the whole thing.

Five years after the invasion, the former Times Baghdad correspondent reports on the war's uniquely grim toll on colleagues she worked with, and explains why they still take such enormous risks

It is a quarter to one in the morning around the al-Hamra pool and the evening's bacchanalia is just unfolding. Another bottle of Lebanese red is popped open as a notorious Italian photographer tests out his charms on a bikini-clad reporter in the pool. At a rickety plastic table, another reporter is spinning a hair-raising tale of his journey across the Western desert into Baghdad, pursued by armed bandits. By the end of the evening, four of the party will end up fully clothed in the pool.

Five years since that riotous early summer of 2003, less than a handful of that evening's revellers remain in Baghdad. At least six have been kidnapped and held hostage by insurgents. Several have been wounded; several have retired from covering conflict zones, at least for now, too troubled by what they saw there. More than half have sought professional psychological help, or been compelled to by family or employers. Some have gone on to great professional success, or just gone on. At least two never got out alive, swelling the death toll that has made Iraq the deadliest war for journalists in history.

"I don't know anyone who came out unscathed," Caroline Hawley, the BBC's one-time woman in Baghdad reflects.

The psychological toll among journalists remains unknown; many who need help have not sought it and few will discuss it openly. The average time lapse for PTSD onset - seven years - harbingers troubles yet to come.

Shame and a sense of inadequacy have stopped many journalists talking publicly of their inner battles. After all, when you have witnessed such suffering, your own anguish seems woefully small. "I feel embarrassed to be talking about this when you set it against the monumental collective suffering of Iraqis," Hawley says. "I do feel guilty."


Anonymous Patent Attorney said...

I suppose working in journalism gives you that important perspective, seeing what else is happening in the world makes you appreciate that your own problems are quite insignificant.

6:17 AM


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