Sunday, January 29, 2006

Dangerous Work: Covering the World

Having an American network anchor get badly hurt in Iraq is a good chance to remember how many journalists are wounded or killed covering these stories. As I mentioned, my brother, David, a.k.a. Daoud, had plenty of close calls in his career as TV journalist. Indeed, video footage of him running from the police in South Africa was shown as the promo for the CNN special “Dying To Tell the Story.”
These journalists often meet and party together in trouble spots around the world, or in simple conferences. When Daoud worked in Egypt, he flew to Kenya to attend such a gathering and it was there that he first met the legendary Mo Amin - at one time the most famous photojournalist in the world. Mo broke the original Ethiopian famine story, launching a global relief effort that included the “We Are the World” campaign. How many journalists are credited with saving millions of people with one of their stories?
Daoud and Mo were bureau chiefs and colleagues together. At one point they met in Amman and Mo got Daoud a visa into Iraq, so they traveled in just prior to the first Gulf War.
In one scene from the script called “Covering It” that I wrote about my brother’s career, I describe an explosive event at an Ethiopian ammo dump that pinned down Mo, ripping off one of his arms and killing his soundman. A camera company built him a customized camera and Mo was given a high-tech replacement arm. When Daoud saw him in a hotel in London, Mo proudly showed how the motorized “hand” would rotate completely around.
In 1996, Mo was on the hijacked Ethiopian airliner that crashed in the Indian Ocean. Fittingly the crash was captured on video from shore, but unfortunately Mo Amin was among those killed.
The number of journalists and their assistants killed so far in this Iraq war is reported to be 79. I’m so glad my brother’s out of the business.


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