As an Italian freelancer, I offer all my support to Francesca. I suppose she works for the same newspaper I write for, and I can confirm her every word. When I was detained in Pakistan, I didn’t get any support, not even an email from colleagues; they wrote an article about the story three days later and only because other media were covering the story. Eventually, I got out of trouble just because the editor in chief of Limes (an Italian review of geopolitics) did everything in his power to get me the hell out of there. And yes, nobody is forcing us to do this job: But it is our job; we love it, and we try to do it at its best and with all the intellectual honesty we can.
Your piece was shattering. Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman have spoken highly of a reader-supported model, and I would pay you for your more indepth pieces that try to understand the situation in Syria. I imagine that is true for the other people sending you a “dozen emails” that ask for understanding instead of blood. This may not be enough to buy you a fixer, but I wonder if it may help you get out the kinds of stories you want. Stay alive, stay sane(ish).
I just read your shocking piece on freelancing in war-zone Syria. I’ve been working as a freelancer for 32 years; I worked as a political correspondent in a normal country, with no wars, no serious problems, etc. And every single word you write about being treated so poorly by editors who show little interest is a déjà vu. I would never have believed that editors would react with just as much ignorance, egotism, ruthlessness, to you in a war zone as they would to those of us who report from the comfort of a peaceful city in a peaceful country.
I wrote about Marie Colvin when it happened, and am acquainted with Paul Conroy, the photographer who survived badly injured. You all have my deepest respect for what you do.
Your piece is brilliant and incredibly vital to opening the eyes of people who romanticize war-zone reporting. You’re very courageous to publish this. I sincerely thank you for your bravery and will promote it as much as I can to my international readers.
Wishing you safety foremost,
Jens M. Lucke
Francesca, thank you for your piece. I am not a journalist, just a reader. But hopefully one of the bright ones, wanting simplicity, but not oversimplification, analysis rather than emotion. There is a dearth of credible and intelligent work, indeed, on what is happening in Syria. What I see in the news is simplistic and panders to readers’ fears and stereotypes. I do not know how to change a broken market for mass media, unfortunately. I wish you a lot of success and luck in your daily work.
People like Francesca make this world a little more understandable and people like you editors make that journalism work closer to ours, the readers. Thank you very much for publishing it, and I really hope that I can read more articles of true criticism toward an issue that affects us all. Good job!
J. Bernie Reyes
Mexico City, Mexico
Francesca, your story “Woman’s work” was the clearest description I’ve ever read of what a war zone is like. Part of the clarity for me, I’m sure, is knowing that a woman wrote it and being able to see through your eyes instead through a man’s. Thank you. So much of what we see in the media here in the States is so dumbed down and sanitized that it’s like looking at something through frosted glass: There’s something there, but we can’t quite see the real shape and size. I’ve been reading a lot about the human need for stories as a way of communicating and connecting, relatable stories in which you can picture yourself as part of the narrative. Your piece put me in the streets next to you and made me see it in a personal way instead of as an abstract concept. Thank you! Stay safe.
My ex-husband sent this article to me with the words read this. I have, and am now in tears with my first cup of coffee. I am feeling frustration, angst, fear, and overwhelming empathy. I used to say that if I could touch just one person with my photographs to make them want to know more, then I’ve done my job. Now, at those dinner parties, having limped in feeling every old injury, I usually, by the end, tell someone I don’t know why I bothered—they couldn’t give a damn.