It's been suggested from time to time that I bear responsibility for what I choose to link to on this site, or for the comments I choose to "feature." I don't see it that way—the things I link to are just things that a) I find interesting, or b) that I think other people might find interesting. That's about the extent of it.
In another sense this came up yesterday with the question of whether I endorse Ben's Pinwide lens. Not necessarily; I haven't seen it or used it. When I mention a product it doesn't mean that I'm "pushing" it. It's just something I find interesting or cool or different. When I actually am endorsing a product, I hope I'm clear about that.
So here's a link to a very serious subject—it's an essay by the photographer Teru Kuwayama called "Which of Us Dies First?", and it brings up some potentially controversial issues about the news photography business and the organizations that engage in it. I'm not necessarily endorsing Teru's position. I'm not necessarily not endorsing it. I don't actually know enough about it to have an authoritative position of my own. But it struck me as a thoughtful and articulate opinion piece by an insider, and I sense in the writing the urgency and clarity that often signals a subject the author has thought about deeply and at length. I thought you might be interested.
(Thanks to Nikhil R. and others)
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Bill Pierce: "When I was captured in Syria, once their superiors told our captors that they couldn’t kill us, I was relatively safe. But they beat our driver, broke his leg and put him in the hospital for some time. He was one of them. How could he work for the horrible foreigners? A too-common fate for exceptional folks who know the turf, speak the language, and without whom we would be useless.
"Add the local doctors to that exceptional group. It used to be a Red Cross on a rooftop meant 'don’t bomb this hospital.' Now, sometimes, it just seems to mark a target. The third person killed with Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros was a doctor, from Ukraine.
"Actually, let’s do honor to all the folks in a war who don’t have to be there. It’s not important whether they chose not to leave or whether they flew in. They are remarkable people."
Featured Comment by Francisco Cubas: "I agree with Teru Kuwayama's view. Of course I sympathize with photojournalists (and war photographers are our heros). I worked as one for three years (of course, never on a war) and I always found unbalanced the way the media covers incidents that jeopardize journalists.
"Usually, when a journalist is hurt or dead lots of people have been hurt or dead before at that place, but they are never reported like persons, they are reported like numbers (specially if they're not westerners).
"Let's not forget too that the journalists make a free decision to go there. The people involved on those scenarios don't have that choice.
"I guess we all admire war photographers the same way some people admire bullfighters: we love to see them put their life on the line, and then blame the bull when they fall apart.
"Is it worth it? Who can say it?
"I'd like to think that the majority of those photojournalists dead on the line wouldn't had want all this attention for themselves, but for their work, for the people they went to cover in the first place."