You cannot fail to have read or heard this week about the death of Marie Colvin, the Sunday Times journalist who was killed on 22nd February in Syria as she reported on the bloody conflict and the appallingly relentless attack on civilians that continues there day and night. Her death was a shock – a strike at the heart of our establishment and free press – but it highlights too the deaths which are still passing beneath our radar: the innocent civilians besieged and bombarded in Homs, picked off seemingly at random in what can only be seen as a cruel and callous demonstration of might and power.
Ms Colvin was very clear about the purpose of what she was doing. In an address she gave in November 2010 at St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street, London, at a service to commemorate war reporters who had died since 2000, she explained why she and others went into dangerous situations: ‘Our mission is to speak the truth to power. We send home that first draft of history. We can, and do, make a difference in exposing the horrors of war and especially the atrocities that befall civilians … The real difficulty is having enough faith in humanity to believe that enough people – be they government, military or the man on the street – will care when your file reaches the printed page, the website or the TV screen. We do have that faith because we believe we do make a difference’.
Her passion was with her to the end. One of last reports described watching a baby die – a heartbreaking plea to the West to get involved in halting the terror. If we feel powerless when we read her reports, remember that Marie Colvin took power into her own hands and placed herself so that she could expose the truth and prompt a reaction. The lesson of her life is that it is in fact possible to act and to light the touchpaper for change.
Marie Colvin put herself in harm’s way so that she could tell us the truth and help make the world a far, far better place. We cannot allow her to die in vain, or for the story she was telling in Syria to go unnoticed. Tell this on – and continue her work.