Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Finding Truth in the Sandstorm

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Finding Truth in the Sandstorm

Article excerpt

Covering a war means going to places torn by chaos, destruction and death ... and trying to bear witness. It means trying to find the truth in a sandstorm of propaganda when armies, tribes or terrorists clash. And yes, it means taking risks."

Marie Colvin spoke these words at St Bride's, the journalists' church on Fleet Street, London, in 2010. The service was to commemorate the 49 people killed on assignment for the British media so far this century. On 22 February, Colvin joined their number.

To look at the Sunday Times correspondent was to see the sacrifices she had made in a 30-year career "bearing witness". Her left eye was covered by a black patch: it was lost to shrapnel while covering the civil war in Sri Lanka in 2001. She was convinced that, as a journalist, she had been deliberately targeted.

As news spread of her death' alongside the French photographer Remi Ochlik in the Syrian city of Horns, her reports from the country took on a new power.

She was the only journalist for a British newspaper in the Baba Amr enclave, under siege by Syrian government forces since 4 February. She described those huddled in the "widow's basement", one of the few refuges as the army rained down rockets, shells and tank rounds.

Although the bombardment is ostensibly to drive out the opposition Free Syrian Army, there is no pretence here that civilian deaths are only "collateral damage". Colvin reported in the Sunday Times that snipers would pick off anyone who tried to escape the area. …

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