Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Four NYT Journalists Missing in Libya (Update!)

NYT's Media Decoder reported this afternoon that four NYT journalists are missing in Libya: Anthony Shadid and Stephen Farrell, both prominent war reporters; and Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, photojournalists who regularly produce amazing images of war-torn countries.

This news is doubly frightening considering the recent treatment of 3 BBC reporters in the hands of the Libyan military. For 21 hours, they were beaten and subjected to fake executions, but were eventually released. Also, this happened in Egypt a month ago.

When I first read about the NYT reporters, it felt like my heart had dropped to my stomach. I'm especially familiar with Hicks and Addario's photos since I have great admiration for war photographers. They put themselves in the direct paths of tense and life-threatening situations in order to capture a shot that properly showcases a war. Whenever I see their photos, I always wonder what's happening around them – what is not seen in the images captured?

Two weeks ago, Hicks' account of his experience photographing in Libya appeared on the Lens blog. About war photography, he had said:

Conflict is very difficult to capture in a still photograph. Once you take away the sound and the motion, when you’re trying to capture that feeling and that atmosphere, it’s very difficult to translate — what it feels like to be there, the confusion and gunfire and bombs and all these things that envelop you in battle. To take a single photograph of that is a challenge.

It can be so easy to romanticize lives of war reporters and photographers – God knows I'm guilty of that with all the books I've read from war reporters. But then something like this happens and all I can feel is incredible dread. It reminds me that though their work must be exhilarating and fulfilling, that rush can sometimes come at the expense of their safety. They remain in my thoughts.

Update 3/18/11:
Christiane Amanpour interview Qaddafi's son and he said that the four journalists are under government custody and will be released later today!

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