Breathing the Fire: Fighting to Report – and Survive – the War in Iraq
Monday, April 21, 2008
7:00 p.m.- Stern Center, Great Room
Terrorism has made news reporting very dangerous. Reporters have become the targets of terrorist acts, where they once only stood next to targets. Being embedded has also made the role of correspondent more complex, raising such questions as which ‘side’ we’re on, whether we are legitimate targets when shadowing the military or insurgents, and the ethics of going on a raid to kill insurgents. Also, the ‘cable effect’ has made it more difficult to report a straight story because so many people now expect some sort of opinion, and cable television representatives openly criticize correspondents for anything they report.
Sponsored by Betty R.’58, and Dan Churchill and Penn State Dickinson School of Law
Issue in Context
From World War II to the Vietnam War and the first Persian Gulf War, reporters have been responsible for providing a connection between the battlefield and the American public. This connection was mediated by various means of communication from the telegraph, to the television and, finally, computers. The technological boom has facilitated on site immediate news reporting and, at times of war, journalists venture to the battlefields and put themselves in harmâ€™s way to capture the information and broadcast it instantly. Those working on the War in Iraq have faced new challenges and consequences primarily associated with their safety and well being.
The practice of embedding reporters within military units first came to be used during the media coverage of the 2003 invasion in Iraq. Embedded journalism has allowed reporters access to soldiers on the front lines in exchange for certain restrictions on coverage. Although this partnership has benefited journalists by letting them report from inside the military and protecting them with the security of that environment, questions have arisen regarding the accuracy and objectivity of the coverage. Also, due to the unpredictable nature and chaos of guerrilla warfare, reporters, like much of the general public, can easily become casualties and therefore must take extraordinary precautions to survive. Wall Street Journal reporter Farnaz Fassihi described that “â€¦my most pressing concern everyday is not to write a kick-ass story, but to stay alive and make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Bagdad, I am a security personnel first, a reporter second.”
While the daily struggle to survive continues in Iraq, reporters face a different sort of challenge at home. The so-called “cable effect” refers to a new kind of TV journalism that disparages objectivity, disregards criticism and discounts investigative reporting. The demand for entertainment spurred by the competitive market within cable television, rather than accurate reporting, has created a backlash against journalists who strive for the straight story. Reporters must struggle to find the truth and combat insurgents as well as American television. The pressures on embedded correspondents to gather all possible information while dealing with public preferences, government censorship, and security issues have complicated the ethics of journalism.
About the Speaker
Kimberly Dozier has been a CBS News correspondent since 2003, and has covered issues in Iraq and the Middle East extensively for the CBS Evening News, The Early Show and CBS Radio News. Her first book, Breathing the Fire, published by Meredith Books will debut in 2008.
Prior to her CBS News appointment, she was the chief correspondent for WCBS-TV, New York’s
Middle East bureau in Jerusalem, and served as the London bureau chief and chief European correspondent for CBS Radio News.
On May 29, 2006, Dozier, cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman James Brolan, were the victims of a car bombing while reporting a story in Baghdad. Douglas and Brolan were killed, as were the U.S. Army captain and Iraqi translator accompanying them. Dozier was seriously wounded, but has since fully recovered.
Dozier received the American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) Grand Gracie Award in 2007 for her body of work on Iraq. She was also the recipient of the AWRT’s Gracie Awards for 2000, 2001 and 2002 for her radio reports on Middle Eastern violence, Kosovo and the Afghan war. Dozier was honored by the Overseas Press Club in 2007 and spoke on behalf of journalists killed and injured in Iraq. She also received the Association for Women in Communication’s 2007 Helen Duhamel Achievement Award. In 2007, she was awarded the Radio and Television News Directors Association and Foundation’s Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award. Most recently she won a 2007 Peabody award for “CBS News Sunday Morning: The Way Home,” for her piece about two female veterans who lost limbs in Iraq.
Dozier graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts in human rights and Spanish from Wellesley College in 1987 and holds a master’s degree in foreign affairs from the University of