That's the big question you get hit with coming into the newsroom on a day like Monday.
Yeah, of course we talked about the CBS News crewmembers injured and killed in Baghdad. By the time I'd shown up at the station for my shift, I think much of the shock had worn off. Still, there were moments when it was the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
If you haven't heard, two CBS News crewmembers were killed by a car bomb. Reporter Kimberly Dozier was also severely injured. Last I checked, she was in critical, but stable condition. It's a horrible tragedy and I'm sad about the loss of life. Here it is a couple of days later and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.
On Monday, I seemed to key in on parts of past conversations where people claimed they'd never go over there (or any war zone) to work at this point. People who know I've considered volunteering for assignments in Iraq, asked if I'd still be willing to go.
I don't know.
It's an unwritten rule that no news story is worth your life, but that's a little too broad of a statement and I don't think it's true. I have a family and I understand how unacceptable it would be to risk my life for a story that won't change the world. I'm not taking a bullet for Dr. Phil or CSI (maybe for Paul Magers, we did win the 11:00pm). The fact remains that we have people willing to go to the war zones in the world and report the news. I doubt they see it as volunteering for the possibility of being injured or killed. To do this job to the best of our ability, I think we have to discount the personal danger. We have to go to where the story is happening. That includes the bad neighborhood in our own cities and that includes the war zone on the other side of the world.
I'm not sure it's appreciated.
I know a lot of people who work in news and see it as just a job. It's their way of putting a roof over their head and food on the table. There's nothing wrong with that and most days, it is pretty much what we're all doing. I'd never blindly put myself into harm's way, but is it so inconceivable that there are members of the news media who see value in what we do? Obviously, there are journalists who consider the loss of life a risk that's worth taking. It's difficult to even type it, but I wonder if they look at it as an "acceptable" risk?
It's scary to think about being harmed or killed in the line of doing my job. Especially when the value in what I do can vary so greatly day to day. Just know that it is something I think about. As much fun as I have doing what I do, the nature of my day can change very quickly. The line between covering the lead story and being the lead story is not that difficult a line to cross.
All it really takes is a willingness to be good at this job.