“To bear witness means being there — and that’s not free. No search engine gives you the smell of a crime, the tremor in the air, the eyes that smolder, or the cadence of a scream.” Roger Cohen describes, all too vividly, his experiences in Iran with gut-wrenching detail. Roger Cohen’s piece on a journalist’s actual responsibility describes what he believes to be the key component of helping people as a reporter. It’s difficult to be in the position that many journalists find themselves in.
Being caught amidst a war stricken country doing your job as a witness reporting back to the rest of the world isn’t an easy task. It’s not one to be taken lightly and the emotional and mental toll reaches farther than one might think. As Cohen says, “A chunk of me is back in Tehran.” It’s tough to detach emotionally from the danger and sorrow that is being witnessed from an objective standpoint. More so than just the emotional drain that can accompany a journalist working in a human rights field, the danger is also very real. 71 different journalists were killed in 2015 alone. A journalist’s role in the world can be a number of different things; a witness, a recorder, a savior. It’s difficult to know how to do the right thing all the time. Intervening in a situation isn’t a journalist’s duty. Their job is to report on the happening they are covering, and if that means letting them happen then that is what the job entails.