Yes, mothers can cover revolutions: An open letter to Peter Worthington

Reporter and OpenFile editor Wilf Dinnick has written an open letter to Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington in response to a column suggesting reporters who happen to be mothers shouldn’t be working in dangerous countries.

Worthington wrote his incendiary column about Lara Logan, the 60 Minutes correspondent that was sexually assaulted on the job in Cairo. He writes:

“Should women journalists with small children at home, be covering violent stories or putting themselves at risk? It’s a form of self-indulgence and abdication of a higher responsibility to family.”

Worthington adds that “[Going to Egpyt] was the right thing for her to do journalistically — unless, of course, she had small children, which was the case. Her son (from a second marriage) was born in 2009 and should have taken precedent over her wishes to cover the world’s biggest story for the moment.

“This holds true for any woman covering wars or revolutions.

“Fine and commendable for, say, the Calgary Herald’s Michelle Lang to cover the Canadians’ war in Afghanistan, where she was killed during the first few days she was there. But she was single and prepared to take her chances. Were she the mother of small children, plain and simple she should not have been there.”

This is Dinnick’s letter in full:

You have revealed much more about yourself and your age than you likely expected in your article “Women with young kids shouldn’t be in war zones

I am a journalist (more recently journalist/entrepreneur).

We briefly met in Afghanistan while I was working as a correspondent for Canwest. I was there with my wife, Sonia Verma. She has worked for the Times of London, New York Newsday, Toronto Star and she now is a foreign reporter for the Globe and Mail.

Sonia was one of the reporters sent to cover the revolution in Egypt. She was beaten by a mob, but did not write about it extensively because she feared sexist and antiquated views like yours might take away from the importance of the story in Egypt.

You owe my wife, the mother of my two children, an apology.

I am proud of the example she sets for my two daughters aged two and three – a brave woman who believes in her profession and the values it espouses.

You should also apologize to all the aspiring and hungry female reporters in J-Schools across the country.

As a Canadian journalist, I am well aware of your impressive CV and your pedigree in the Canadian media scene. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Middle Eastern dictators of your vintage are being tossed out of power for being so out of touch.