On The Front Lines, On The Job

Chris Chafin considers how war correspondents rationalize risk:

Holding seemingly contradictory ideas in close proximity seems to be important for combat reporters. You acknowledge that you put yourself in dangerous situations, but believe you have the ability to figure out which are dangerous in a general sense and which are dangerous in a more immediate sense. You recognize that things are out of your control, that conflicts shift in ways that are unpredictable for reasons that are opaque to you, and yet trust yourself to stay safe. These are close cousins to the decisions we make every day, to smoke, to drink too much, to bring drugs on an airplane. “I know this could go badly,” we think, “but I know what I’m doing.” In combat situations, consequences can be more immediate.

Francesca Borri, a combat reporter in Syria, says that living with fear is part of the job :

One recent evening there was shelling everywhere, and I was sitting in a corner, wearing the only expression you could have when death might come at any second, and another reporter comes over, looks me up and down, and says: “This isn’t a place for women.” What can you say to such a guy? Idiot, this isn’t a place for anyone. If I’m scared, it’s because I’m sane.