Tim Hetherington, the award winning photographer as well as co- Director of the 2010 acclaimed documentary “Restrepo”, is one of two photographers that died Wendsday amidst fighting in the Libyan city of Musrata, a stronghold of armed rebels trying to stave off pro-government forces. Chris Hondros, a freelance photographer working for Getty Images was also killed. Hetherington and Hondros, along with two other photographers with the Panos Photograph agency also sustained injuries that are said to be non-life threatening. As many as thirteen others civilians also were slain in the attack.
The New York Times reports that all four were covering the activities of rebel forces that have been targets of shelling by Gaddaffi forces. The four were somehow reportedly caught in the crossfire and according to differing accounts by two colleagues at the scene were either struck by a mortar round or a rocket propelled grenade from government forces.
Hetherington it seems died at the scene or soon there after, while Hondros was brought to a rebel hospital with substantial injuries to his head and a loss of blood and brian tissue. He passed away after a few hours in accoma. Two other photographers, Michael Christopher Brown and Guy Martin both native Brits capturing images of the war for the Panos Pictures agency were also brought to the triage center having weathered less severe injuries.
The UK Gaurdian reports that despite this incident, media will continue to report on the ground in Libya.
True the reporters, the photojournalists, the camera operators, thier technicans, and the producers don’t have to be there. They weren’t drafted and aren’t the prime target of one side or another in the heat of battle. Life didn’t suck them into this mad vortex in a foreign land whose streets, people, and language they scarecly know. But they come and give us something crucial to the annals of history, the grasp of our present, and what the future could hold; a window into this mad world, whose violence ripples from one end of the globe to the next. And in doing just that they sacrifice not only comfort or piece of mind, but limb and often life itself.
Numbers kept by the NGO ‘Reporters without Borders’ show there are now four members of the media to so far to die amidst the warring in Libya. Furthermore in the first four months of 2011 there have been 18 journalists and two media assistants killed, while covering events or stories around the world. As many as 150 others have been imprisoned for thier activities.
It might be as an old poet once said ‘ it is the solider and not the reporter who gives us freedom of the press, but in a world where the distinctions betweem civilian and solider are blurred; just excercising that freedom in photographing charred sullen faces of women, as well as the dread in the eyes of children. Those who write the columns that tell us of the displaced elderly, refuggees, and wounded who stagger from day to day night to night and sometimes fall into the arms of death. They film the exchanges of gunfire and explosions that spawn smoke in the form of mascadonic crowns of cauliflower that darken the heavens with its dark noxious kiss for broadcast . They dispel the propaganda and shine a light on the truth that is so often camoflauged by all the insanity. And for doing all this we should be grateful.