The Bravery of Being a Journalist

Ryan Flynn –

I’m not going to deny it. It is one of my dreams to one day be a journalist in one form or another. And I am not referring to one of those journalists who work for USA Today or the Wall Street Journal, albeit respectable newspapers, nonetheless.

What I am referring to is the types of journalists that go to the remote reaches of the world to document the kinds of stuff that needs to be reported on; the genocide, the starvation, the poverty, but also documenting just how similar we all are, no matter what country or region we come from.

That to me is real journalism.

Just this past Tuesday, May 13, reports came in from the office of the French president confirming the death of Camille LePage, a 26-year-old French photographer. Her body was found by French peacekeeping troops in the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR). This was the first death of a Western journalist in the conflict in the CAR.

Having not heard of her before this report of her death, I started looking at her official website and her photography. All of it rather good. I urge you all to go check out her portfolio at http://camille-lepage.photoshelter.com/.

“I condemn the killing of Camille Lepage, whose only desire was to show, through her work, the fate of marginalized populations,” – Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The reason for such a condemnation was that the UN describes journalists, writers, and photographers working in war-torn regions as civilians and are to be protected as such. So to kill a journalist, is even more heinous than a normal killing of an armed person in the region.

Camille was born in Angers, France and started photography after receiving a degree in journalism. She moved to South Sudan in 2012 to hone her skills as a photographer and journalist by looking at the region and has been working in war-torn Central Africa ever since.

killing-journalists

After hearing her story, it reminded me a lot of a journalist that I became very fond of a year ago. A man by the name of Dan Eldon. Dan was born September 18, 1970 in London, England, but his family soon moved to Kenya when Dan was 7. He became famous for his journals, which developed at an early age into an assortment of different meanings and contained an array of items.

“From the beginning, Dan’s journals were a home for ephemera. He pillaged the house for odds and ends: food labels, cloth, string, ticket stubs, old magazines. When he’d exhausted that supply, he expanded his search zone. The more bizarre or rare the object the better—an Arabic newspaper was more valuable than one in English, the wrapping from a Russian caviar canister better than an everyday soup label. The journals also became a home for his photographs. Kathy and Mike had given Dan a little automatic camera when he was just six years old. Later, he learned how to use his parents’ 35-millimeter cameras and eventually bought his own Nikon from a National Geographic photographer who had stayed at the house for a few days. He often lacked confidence in his abilities as a photographer, which made it all the easier to cut up the photos and draw all over them.”

That was an excerpt from a book on Dan Eldon entitled “Safari as a Way of Life”. If you ever get the chance to read it, do! It is a must read!

Dan went on to become a photojournalist in Africa and mostly Somalia during 1992-1993.

Dan was killed on July 12, 1993 at just 22 years of age, in Mogadishu, Somalia, ironically by the very people he was trying to help. His photos have been circulated around the world in many major magazines and newspapers, and many books have been published by his family detailing his extensive journals.

It is the bravery of people like Dan Eldon and Camille LePage that make our news and inform us of the stuff that we really need to be hearing about globally. It is journalists like these two who grace the pages of the New York Times, National Geographic, and other magazines and newspapers and make the faraway feel close to home.

It is journalists like these that would make me proud to one day say I, too, am I journalist.

 

Ryan Flynn, from Jacksonville, Illinois, is a senior history major at Illinois College. Ryan is Opinions Editor for The Rambler, TRiO Social Committee President, and Class Chair for the Class of 2015.

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