Monday, January 30, 2006

BOB WOODRUFF'S CLOSE CALL

Well, ABC World News Tonight still has an anchorman today as Bob Woodruff recuperates in a German-based US military hospital after he and his cameraman Doug Vogt (CANADIAN) were felled by an exploding roadside bomb near Baghdad.

I tuned into Imus in the Morning and they were talking about Woodruff's condition today. Tom Brokaw was telling them that Woodruff and Vogt were rushed to a US military hospital in Iraq and the doctors operated to relieve swelling in Woodruff's brain. His condition had stabilized enough that he was allowed to be moved overnight to Germany. Now word is they'll be transferred back to the United States soon. Woodruff and Vogt were in full metal armored gear at the time of the incident and were wearing their helmets- no doubt this is what saved their lives.

This incident really shows you the level of danger faced by journalists on a regular basis in that part of the world, and it comes at a time when things are really getting dangerous for reporters throughout the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Freelancer Jill Carroll is still being held hostage by captors, who sent another grizzly videotape of her to Al-Jazeera for that audience's viewing pleasure.

It just highlights the level of danger for everyone there and the danger journalists face. Something like what happened to Woodruff could have easily have happened to star reporters like Lara Logan (who herself had a near-miss from a roadside bomb) or Brian Williams, who had a close call of his own during the Iraq War. Many are comparing Woodruff to NBC's David Bloom who died at an early age in Iraq, leaving his young family behind.

You know, I did a whole blog post about guys saying no to careers in TV news- and I'll bet this is one reason why. Who in their right mind would want to put themselves in harm's way in a place like Iraq!? Especially if you have a wife and kids!!??!! But you know, this is part of the job, part of being in hard news. You expect guys like Bob Woodruff to go out there and cover this story and give it 100%. These are exactly the types of stories you want these people to cover. You've got to appreciate the commitment and dedication these people have to getting these stories and going to these dangerous places. It's easy to admire it, it's different to actually want to do it. I don't think you can blame people who would prefer a job where dodging bullets and roadside bombs isn't a requirement.

I also read that Woodruff got his break in TV news in Redding, California at a salary of $12,000 a year reporting and shooting his own stories. So you start out working for terrible wages in places like Redding, and if you're really lucky you could end up almost getting killed in Iraq. This is really going to encourage guys to go into TV news, this near-miss with Woodruff. NOT.

In fact, one reason I soured on TV news was what happened with David Bloom. I am not kidding. He was doing the White House beat and these cool stories, and I was thinking "I want to be David Bloom!" No thanks, not after this! I gotta say, entertainment news looks good today compared to hard news. Especially foreign news! What happened with Bob Woodruff and his crew is just terrible. I wouldn't want to put my relatives through something like that.

Many will say that too much is being made of this incident. The media is there to cover Bob Woodruff, they say, but where are the stories of soldiers coming home in bodybags? That's the latest thing they're whining about now, these talking heads. Well, first of all, there are plenty of stories about soldiers dying over there. For months they've been reporting that it's a bloodbath over there. Ted Koppel did specials where they ran off lists of people who died. So the soldiers have been getting plenty of coverage already.

I think an incident like this simply highlights the fact that it's a bloodbath over there and that Iraq is still a very dangerous place for Americans. You sort of expect soldiers to get killed, because it's a war zone. But the fact that the anchorman of World News Tonight was almost killed in Iraq says a lot about the state of things there and will get people's attention. Even him, they'll be saying.

If Iraq is not a safe place for Bob Woodruff, it's not safe for anyone.

No comments: