As ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt continued to recover from the serious injuries they sustained when their convoy was hit by a roadside explosive in Iraq, their colleagues and families reacted to the attack, which served as another reminder of how dangerous covering the Iraqi war has become for foreign journalists.
“Like other journalists who cover the news under dangerous circumstances, [Woodruff and Vogt] showed great courage in the assignment they took on,” said Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, which represents local and network news executives. “Unfortunately, this incident shows the risks journalists face in covering war while trying to ensure that the public is informed.”
By embedding themselves with Iraqi soldiers, foreign journalists have gotten closer to the story but increased the risk to themselves tremendously.
CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier, en route from Jordan to Iraq, filed a story to CBSNews.com Monday detailing how long it has taken for some foreign correspondents to accept that that they have become targets and adapt to new security measures.
“Over the past two-and-a-half years, the danger increased incrementally, with kidnappings, killings and bombings first hitting Iraqis, then U.S. soldiers, then foreign contractors and missionaries and foreign aid workers, before finally hitting us,” she said.
“Journalists face awful, dangerous risks in Iraq, more so than almost anyplace else on earth right now,” Dozier said, adding, “But it's nothing compared to the people we cover. And knowing how Bob and Doug both can be direct to the extreme, they will likely shortly be telling all of us, when they get out of surgery, 'Come off it, folks. We knew the risks, and that's never stopped us from doing the job — nor will it. Now let's get back to work."
Since the Iraq war began in 2003, 61 journalists have died as a result of hostile actions, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Thirty-seven have been kidnapped, including U.S. journalist Jill Carroll, who was abducted by armed men Jan. 7. On Monday Al-Jazeera aired a new videotape showing the 28-year-old Christian Science Monitor freelance reporter wearing an Islamic veil and weeping. Although the piece had no sound, Carroll was purportedly appealing for the release of Iraqi female prisoners.
The attack on Woodruff, Vogt and their team heightened news divisions’ awareness to security issues in Iraq. NBC News and CBS News said that, like ABC, they are constantly reviewing and updating safety plans and have made precautions such as body armor and helmets standard for their crews in Iraq.
“Journalists working in Iraq face tremendous danger, every single day. And yet, many fine journalists are on the ground as we speak, dedicated to shedding light on the important stories from that region,” said NBC News President Steve Capus. “We're also reminded of the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women of the US armed forces. Today, they are all in our thoughts and prayers.”
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams said his family has been in touch with Woodruff’s.
“These jobs are often toughest on our families,” he said. “Journalism in a war zone carries great risks, and covering the war in Iraq, and the dangers faced by U.S. and Iraqi forces, brings with it its own unique hazards.”
Woodruff’s brother, David Woodruff, appeared in an interview from Landstuhl, Germany Monday on World News Tonight’s 3 p.m. Webcast, World News Now. He said Woodruff had shown improvement each hour.
“His condition is good, and the care here has been incredible at Landstuhl, they've done a wonderful job,” he said. “The doctors have been communicating with us all the time. The care he got in the field—he was taken into the Balad field hospital within just about 30 minutes, so he got there, got treated, and the actions that they took saved his life, no question about it.”
Woodruff’s other brother, James, gave an interview Sunday to Sacramento, Calif.'s CBS 13, saying “my older brother, Bob, he's always been my hero. He's Superman to me."