Syria: War Reporter Marie Colvin and Photographer Rémi Ochlik Are Killed
A celebrated American-born war reporter and a young French photographer were killed on Wednesday morning when Syrian forces bombed a makeshift media center in the besieged city of Homs. The tragedy shook the disparate community of conflict journalists gathered there, not least in highlighting the degree to which risks are intensifying for those covering Syria's march to civil war.
Marie Colvin, an American who was one of Britain's most honored combat journalists, and Rémi Ochlik, an award-winning photojournalist who was just 29, died when the regime's military hit the building where a growing number of foreign journalists were covering the Homs battle. British photographer Paul Conroy, whose work illustrated Colvin's chilling dispatch from Homs in the London Sunday Times last weekend, was reported severely injured, along with an unnamed American woman journalist. Those details have not yet been confirmed. (PHOTOS: The Syrian Civil War: Photographs by Alessio Romenzi)
Within seconds of the news breaking on the BBC and Syrian Twitter feeds, the closed Facebook group for conflict journalists lit up with frenzied messages, many of them unable to believe that their colleagues were gone. And Colvin's own Facebook site was jammed with messages from friends, one saying, "Please God not Marie! Marie are you OK?"
She was not. Just one day before, Colvin had posted a message to the war-reporters' Facebook group, urging colleagues to break her newspaper's firewall and post her extraordinary report from inside Homs. With her characteristic passion and wry self-deprecating humor, she offered to "face the firing squad" for whoever illicitly reposted her work, while not forgetting to praise Conroy's "amazing photos" which accompanied it. "I don't often do this but it is sickening what is happening here," she wrote. (MORE: With Syria's Rebels: A Visit to a Bombmaker's Factory)
At 55, Colvin was no novice in witnessing sickening events. She was a victim of violence herself, having lost her left eye after coming under government fire in Sri Lanka in 2001. While many might long since have sought a prosthetic eye, Colvin chose instead to wear a black eye patch, something of a badge of honor for conflict journalism, instantly making her the most distinctive journalist in any combat zone.
She was also surely one of the more dedicated, rarely missing a conflict -- and believing to the end that the perils were simply a journalist's duty. "Our mission is to speak the truth to power. We send home that first rough draft of history," she said in 2010, in an address at a packed ceremony for fallen war reporters at St. Bride's Church in London. "In an age of 24/7 rolling news, blogs and twitters, we are on constant call wherever we are. But war reporting is still essentially the same -- someone has to go there and see what is happening," she told the audience. "You can't get that information without going to places where people are being shot at, and others are shooting at you." Read more
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