To Be a Journalist in Iraq …

Six Iraqi women who work in the McClatchy Newspapers bureau in Baghdad were honoured in New York with a “courage in journalism award.” Kudos to the New York Times for running the acceptance speech by Baghdad journalist Sahar Issa, speaking for the six, as an editorial. Excerpts:

“To be a journalist in violence-ridden Iraq today, ladies and gentlemen, is not a matter lightly undertaken. Every path is strewn with danger, every checkpoint, every question a direct threat.

“Every interview we conduct may be our last. So much is happening in Iraq. So much that is questionable. So much that we, as journalists, try to fathom and portray to the people who care to know…..

“…. since the war started, four and half years ago, an average of about one reporter and media assistant killed every week is something we have to live with. ….

“So why continue? Why not put down my proverbial pen and sit back? It’s because I’m tired of being branded a terrorist: tired that a human life lost in my county is no loss at all. This is not the future I envision for my children. They are not terrorists, and their lives are not valueless. I have pledged my life — and much, much more, in an effort to open a window through which the good people in the international community may look in and see us for what we are, ordinary human beings with ordinary aspirations, and not what we have been portrayed to be….” profiled winner Lydia Cacho from Mexico, who exposed a pedophile ring in Cancun.

Visit the International Women’s Media Foundation site for more information about these and other winners of the courage in journalism awards.