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Journalists help Americans stay aware of war

Through the war in Iraq, soldiers and civilians are not the only casualties. Journalists – some of whom are embedded in military units and are subject to everything soldiers are – have also given their lives for their country.

They may not be manning tanks or involved with strategic planning, but they are the ones responsible for bringing breaking news back to those who are not on the front lines and do not see the war firsthand.

“I made it clear that I wanted to be treated as a professional,” said Ron Martz, a staff writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Martz was an embedded journalist toward the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003 and has been an embedded journalist during several conflicts over the past 15 years.

“We were there doing our job reporting on them doing their job,” he said.

Since the war in Iraq began, 58 journalists have been killed while covering the conflicts, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. More may have been killed during their war coverage, but the CPJ only considers a journalist to have been killed on duty if there was a “reprisal for his or her work, or crossfire while carrying out a dangerous assignment.”

Under the criteria of the CPJ, the United States has only lost two journalists in the line of duty, one of whom was Michael Kelly, the first American embedded journalist to die in the war.

Out of the 58, 39 of the journalists were Iraqi, the CPJ said. These men and women – not only from Iraq and the United States, but also Britain and other Arab countries – are really no different than other civilians working under the circumstances of war. Their job, however, may be a bit more dangerous than the average civilian’s.

However, it is a job that needs to be done, because stories of war are the ones that need to be told. Martz said that when he got back to America after his time as an embedded journalist, he was disappointed as to how war coverage was “sanitized” on television. This is quite a shame, because it allows the war and the sacrifices that individuals have made to blend into the background and fade into our subconscious.

Support it or not, the Iraq war isn’t going away anytime soon, at least for American soldiers and journalists. We must pay attention to the efforts of the journalists reporting on the war, as they help us to stay aware of the war, something that we, as a nation, need to do.