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Updated: February 22, 2012 22:57 IST

Veteran reporter Marie Colvin killed in Syria

Hasan Suroor
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This is an undated image made available on Wednesday by the “Sunday Times” in London of journalist Marie Colvin. A French government spokeswoman on Wednesday identified two Western reporters killed in Homs, Syria as American war reporter Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik .
This is an undated image made available on Wednesday by the “Sunday Times” in London of journalist Marie Colvin. A French government spokeswoman on Wednesday identified two Western reporters killed in Homs, Syria as American war reporter Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik .

British journalism on Wednesday lost one of its most respected war reporters when Marie Colvin of The Sunday Times, often spoken of in the same breath as Martha Gelhorn for her extraordinary courage to venture into the most feared of danger zones and her passion for war victims, was killed with a French photographer Remi Ochlik in Syria.

Ironically, barely hours before her death, Ms. Colvin had joked in a message to a friend that the reports of “my survival may be exaggerated” given the “sickening'' conditions where she was.

The Sunday Times said the journalists were working in Baba Amr, a suburb of the besieged city of Homs, when the house in which they had been staying came under bombardment.

“As they tried to escape the building, Colvin and Ochlik were hit by a rocket and killed,'' it said.

With her trademark black eye-patch that she wore since losing her left eye in a grenade attack while covering the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka in 2001, Ms Colvin was regarded as the finest foreign correspondent of her generation in the British media. She had reported from almost every hot spot in the world and won respect especially for the compassion with which she wrote about war victims.

“Marie was an extraordinary figure in the life of The Sunday Times, driven by a passion to cover wars in the belief that what she did mattered. She believed profoundly that reporting could curtail the excesses of brutal regimes and make the international community take notice,” said The Sunday Times Editor John Witherow.

Ms Colvin, who was in her 50s, had been its foreign correspondent for more than two decades and won many awards for her frontline despatches, especially from West Asia. She had become so much a part of the “Fleet Street furniture'', as a friend put it, that few knew that she as actually an American. It was said about her that she was drawn to danger as moths are drawn to a flame; and she once reportedly joked that a partner wanted her to be “Laura Ashley" — “pretty and perfect in the home''.

“But that wasn't Marie and she knew it. She was, without exception, a kind and considerate colleague… a woman who inspired and engaged,'' said BBC's Lyse Doucet.

Former colleagues described her as “an old-fashioned journalist in the best sense''. She had “no agenda'' except to bring to the world “with huge accuracy and compassion'', as former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neill put it, the horrors of war and the sufferings of its victims.

“Nothing seemed to deter her. But she was much more than a war reporter. She was a woman with a tremendous joie de vivre, full of humour and mischief and surrounded by a large circle of friends, all of whom feared the consequences of her bravery,” said Mr Witherow.

Ms Colvin's most recent report, published at the weekend, described a “widows' basement”, the cellar of a wood factory in Homs where 300 women and children were hiding from relentless bombardment. She wrote how a baby born in the basement last week “looked as shell-shocked as her mother”, a 19-year-old called Fatima too traumatised to breastfeed.

In Parliament, Prime Minister David Cameron said Ms Colvin's death was “a desperately sad reminder of the risks that journalists take to inform the world of what is happening, and the dreadful events in Syria.”

At least two other foreign journalists were reported wounded — a British freelance photographer Paul Conroy, who was working with Ms Colvin, and Edith Bouvier of the French newspaper, Le Figaro.

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Death is tragic and no one is happy when another human gets killed. War correspondents, as well as international NGOs involved in doing charity, survive on the misery of others. If there are no wars, there will be no news to emanate from these so-called theatres of war – an odd term to describe locations full of death and destruction, with nothing resembling any acting – and the ‘brave’ correspondents will have to look for alternative employment. The saddest state of affairs is that the West, which thinks it is clean as a whistle when it comes to the issue of the violation of human rights, survives on exporting mayhem and destruction. The countries labelling themselves as developed nations foment dissension among the peoples in places that somehow had managed to carry on in their own way, and provide backing and material support to their lackeys to attack the legally constituted establishments in nations that are not ready to tow the line demanded by the West.

from:  Naliah Thayabharan
Posted on: Feb 24, 2012 at 18:55 IST

Ah, reporters with a cause who risk it all for reasons we can only guess. But for a few remaining news organizations and the Internet, such warriors for truth and humanity would not find external justification for their missions. Sadly, only when they become martyrs to their own causes do their deeds and messages make it to the populous at large, even if only for a day. At least Ms. Colvin had the courage to act on her beliefs and values. And while she is no longer with the rest of us because of this very fact, we are left with the silence to reflect upon the location of our own courage to act upon our values, if we dare. May her legacy achieve that which she could not during her lifetime, and may the rest of us share in her passion and courage to create a better world each in our own special way.

from:  Seattle Steve
Posted on: Feb 24, 2012 at 13:20 IST

It is heartily disappointing news,She was an example of bravery and was
dream icon of so many lady journalist.I salute her for her life which
she spent so courage full!!

from:  Madhvi
Posted on: Feb 23, 2012 at 14:46 IST

Three cheers for the courage of the lady ... RIP Marie

from:  Harendra Jat
Posted on: Feb 23, 2012 at 14:06 IST

A brutal goverment bombs its own people. Journalists who report it come in the line of fire. The questions to the Syrian Govt is: who is winning this war? What is the point of all this violence? After, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and now the ongoing strife in Syria, it is very clear, that the time for democratic reforms have come in the Arab. No one can rule for too long as a result of suppressing one's own people.

from:  Balagopal P. Menon
Posted on: Feb 23, 2012 at 13:22 IST

A terrible loss. A life ended, while in the line of duty. Shows the extremes to which journalists have to go to bring to every household the true stories happening around the world. War reporters have always put their lives at stake to bring the human side of wars. They selflessly report on the brutalities inflicted on each other by humans.

from:  Balagopal P. Menon
Posted on: Feb 23, 2012 at 13:01 IST

now UK might wake up as they did in Libya

from:  arman
Posted on: Feb 23, 2012 at 12:56 IST

A perfect example of journalism with passion and cause.With the growing concern of paid journalism and marketeable news stuffs, she should serve as a role model for reporters, if not in the amount of risks she took throughout her life but atleast in her compassionate reporting.

Posted on: Feb 23, 2012 at 10:06 IST

Its sad some genuine journalist like Marie has been lost but, hope she will inspire a lot of new journalists. In India in the mad rush to attaining TRP rating almost all news media has lost the sense of purpose, rubbish & travail news is trashed out every single day & momentum (the "parrot-pappadi" Ad best describes the state of news journalism in India). HINDU has been a saving grace, honestly. Once we'd Barkha Dutt who went to the frontline but, the whole genuineness is lost including Ms. Dutt. The news is no more reporting "as it is", everything is managed and pre-determined agendas. Some of the front page newspaper reporting & the debate on News hour is a hoax..... a joke!!! Hope people like Marie can inspire and redeem the true purpose of journalism.

from:  samvj
Posted on: Feb 23, 2012 at 09:59 IST
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