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RTNDA Honors Reporters Injured in Iraq

Mar 9, 2007  •  Post A Comment

There were smiles mixed with sadness at the annual Radio & Television News Directors Association foundation dinner in Washington, where former ABC World News Bob Woodruff and CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier, both among the numerous journalists severely injured in Iraq, were honored with Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Awards.

Mr. Woodruff expressed praise and some wonderment about the helicopter pilot who ignored orders to swoop in and evacuate him. He also said he has acceded to his wife’s request not to return to Iraq. “I think now about going back to Iraq. I’ve been to Iraq several, five times after the invasion and one time while Saddam was still there. Never once in any of the wars I covered did my wife ever really challenge me, except one time when I really wanted to go to Fallujah in 2005 and she broke into tears because there was so much danger over there. It was the only time in my life where she said, ‘Please don’t go.’

“And now she’s told me, ‘Please don’t go to Iraq.’ So I think that for the first time I’m going to tell my wife I’m not going to go back to Iraq.”

Ms. Dozier said she would like to go back, “not right away, but some time soon.”

She said the Internet has changed journalists’ role in conflicts and not for the better.

“Since 9/11 our job has changed. We used to be able to cross enemy lines at will and tell both sides of the story. We’ve had some lessons about how that has changed. I carry that with me every day.

“Many of those who once welcomed the chance to talk to the international press corps now instead seem to see us as symbols of the countries with which we are at war.

“Some blame the military embed program. I place more blame on the Internet. Simply put, we are not as indispensable as we once were to reach international audiences. If they want to get the story out, they don’t go to us anymore. They go to the Web.”

RTNDA also presented First Amendment Awards to Roger Ailes, Fox News chairman-CEO, and Philip S. Balboni, president and founder of New England Cable Network.

In a video introducing Mr. Balboni, Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly credited Mr. Balboni for launching his career as a commentator at WCVB-TV in Boston.

“All those who hate me … go to his house,” Mr. O’Reilly quipped.

(Editor: Horowitz)