Journalism in the danger zone | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 06.04.2010
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Journalism in the danger zone

In 2006, DW reporter Karen Fischer and her partner Christian Struwe were shot dead in Afghanistan. Fisher's old university has dedicated a memorial lecture to her. Journalist Kevin Sites presented the first one.

DW reporter Karen Fischer was killed in Afghanistan in 2006

DW reporter Karen Fischer was killed in Afghanistan in 2006

Laurel Leff is a professor at Northeastern University's School of Journalism. She taught Karen Fischer, who received her master's in journalism in 2000, and says she was an exceptional person and an excellent journalist whose charm made her popular with her fellow students.

Prof. Laurel Leff teaches journalism at Northeastern University in Boston

Prof. Laurel Leff teaches journalism at Northeastern University in Boston

Fischer and her partner were killed in unknown circumstances when travelling off the beaten track in Afghanistan.

Leff says Fischer's death came as a terrible blow that those who knew her have not recovered from. It was Leff's idea to create a lecture in honor of Fischer. The memorial lecture is aimed at introducing budding journalists to the perils and reality of reporting from crisis zones, where not only are civilians and combatants at risk but reporters too.

One man, one year, 20 wars

Kevin Sites presented the first Karen Fischer Memorial Lecture last week. He is the author of "In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars" that was published in 2007. It shares accounts of his trips to conflict zones in the years 2005 and 2006. As a news journalist for Yahoo, Sites blogged about his experiences and became an online celebrity.

Award-winning journalist Kevin Sites gave the first Karen Fischer Memorial Lecture

Award-winning journalist Kevin Sites gave the first Karen Fischer Memorial Lecture

But he had already notoriously shot to fame with a video he made of a US marine shooting a wounded Iraqi insurgent in 2004. Contrary to Karen Fischer, who refused to be dependent in any way, Sites, who at the time was working for NBC, was embedded with a US marine unit during the battle of Fallujah.

His unedited video was aired across the world and Sites was on the one hand praised for his willingness to reveal the harsh realities of war and simultaneously criticized for betraying the Marine unit and his country.

Kevin Sites was embedded with the US marines during the battle of Fallujah, Iraq

Kevin Sites was embedded with the US marines during the battle of Fallujah, Iraq

Destroyed lives

Kevin Sites is a reporter who has everything he needs for transmitting multimedia reports in his backpack – portable digital technology for shooting, writing and editing. He records when others jump to safety.

His current interest is collateral damage and the way civilian victims and soldiers have their lives ruined by war.

His next destination is Afghanistan where he may end up being embedded again, so as not to run the risk of being shot as Karen Fischer and Christian Struwe were.

Author: Hans Juergen Mayer / act
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein

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