Journalists in Harm's Way

With fire raging in the World Trade towers on Sept. 11, firemen rushed in to rescue people. Likewise, with war raging in Afghanistan, journalists rushed in to report the story.

They both responded to tragedy as a natural part of their jobs. The New York City firemen who perished when the towers collapsed have been honored as heroes. In the war so far, seven non-Afghan journalists have been killed (more than US military casualties). They, too, have been honored in their homelands, from Australia to France, for their courage in working in such a hostile land.

Until this week, the more than 1,000 journalists in Afghanistan were mostly stuck with the Northern Alliance, having been barred from US air missions and US land bases in nearby nations, and, of course, from Taliban-held areas. Now the Pentagon has let a small pool of journalists accompany the first landing of Marines.

While some journalists can be reckless in a war zone, most know how to balance the risks against their job to provide people with news. The Pentagon, too, must balance a need for secrecy against the public's desire for truth about the war.

Reaching the right balance, in both cases, takes as much courage as doing a tough job while in harm's way.

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