Magazine article Nieman Reports

When Being a Photojournalist Is about Surviving: 'Journalists Could Never Be Sure They Would Be Alive to Cover the Next Assignment.'

Magazine article Nieman Reports

When Being a Photojournalist Is about Surviving: 'Journalists Could Never Be Sure They Would Be Alive to Cover the Next Assignment.'

Article excerpt

While I was photographing a rally at the University of Liberia in support of three jailed journalists, then-President Charles Taylor sent armed soldiers and police to disperse the students. On film I'd captured the brutality the security forces used against the students, but then some plainclothes officers demanded that I hand over my camera. When I refused, they knocked my camera to the ground and destroyed it. I was beaten and accused of being an enemy of the government. The pictures of what I'd witnessed were gone.

This wasn't the only incident in which, as a news photographer, I was physically attacked and my equipment confiscated. Sadly, it became a familiar ritual on many of my assignments. Journalists worked like this in Liberia, as each day's assignment presented a fresh challenge of survival. To do our job, we braved death threats by state security officers as we tried to photograph moments and actions that would make real what was happening for those who would see our images. Journalists could never be sure they would be alive to cover the next assignment.

During the past 15 years, my skills as a photojournalist and commitment to journalism have been tested. These were times in Liberia's history that demanded endurance and courage to pursue the truth. Like a few other Liberians who believed that the war for power, wealth and greed needed to stop, I faced dangers and continued to work until I--and others--reached a limit where we could carry on no more.

We went to places where others dared not go, such as into territory where rebel forces opposed to President Taylor were advancing from the country's northern border with Guinea. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.