Journalists are accustomed to long hours. Abdel Karim Hamadie is no exception. His workday has lasted three weeks. That's the last time he went home. Hamadie coordinates broadcasts on Al Iraqiya, an 18-hour-a-day state-run network initially financed by the Pentagon. His position as head of the network makes him an instant target for insurgents. That's why he doesn't go home. Iraqi journalists work under the worst conditions; their lives constantly threatened.
As I write this in the final moments of the month of September, my mind is with those journalists who have given their lives not just for the story but for the concept of the Fourth Estate. It means so much to so many, but at a grave price. This year, 20 journalists' deaths in Iraq have been recorded by the Committee to Protect Journalists. At the current rate, the number of journalists killed there in 2006 could surpass the previous wartime record of 24, set in 2004.
Earlier this year, Steffan Tubbs, a good friend was sent on assignment to Iraq. Aside from his broadcasts, he posted daily web dispatches and the occasional photo, including the one above of him in the center of his security detail. He wrote of late night patrols with Ghost Troop, the same unit ABC's Bob Woodruff and crew were with when their Humvee struck an IED. After learning that, I remember praying for Tubbs' safety. A week or so later he returned with incredible stories to tell and a newfound respect for our servicemen. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Conflict has been with American journalism since day one – from eyewitness reports of the first revolutionary battle in the Massachusetts Spy – to the present. Journalists will not put their pens and microphones down until the story is told, however great the risk. Abdel Karim Hamadie knows there is never a good month for journalists in Iraq. September was terrible. We can hope October will be better.