Bearing Witness

Through the eyes and voices of war correspondents and photojournalists, this is an insight into the world of war, disease, and famine.

'There are two types of people in this world: those who have been to war and seen war close up, and those who haven't. They're not the same animal.'

The journalists and photographers who document war and conflict are continually challenged personally and professionally by the scenes that they witness. How do they live with the horrors of war and human suffering that they witness and the commonly expressed sense of impotence that results, while simultaneously claiming their job is a privilege and their work has given their life meaning?

While passionately arguing their aim is to "make a difference" why have many repeatedly refused to become witnesses in war- crimes tribunals? And how do they deal with one of the most difficult dilemmas faced by war correspondents and photojournalists: whether to abandon their witnessing role to lend assistance to people suffering from the effects of war or famine, or whether to make the decision that the greatest assistance they can provide is to stand back and get the story or pictures out to the rest of the world?

Some war correspondents and photojournalists are drawn back again and again to the next conflict while others have decided that the risk and personal toll is something they can no longer accept.

This book will challenge the way you view and read the world with its remarkable insights into the experiences, beliefs and fears of more than twenty of these journalists and photographers, including Robert Fisk, Monica Attard, Marie Colvin, David Rieff, Donatella Lorch, Pennie Tweedie, Christopher Morris, Suzanne Goldenberg, David Brill, Sorious Samura and Ron Haviv - people who have spent their careers looking at what others cannot bear to see...

quotes about the book

"An insightful, moving anthology that documents the effect that covering traumatic events has on foreign correspondents and photojournalists, and the importance of the stories they tell and how they are remembered. Leith's interviews tackle issues of professional ethics and moral judgement. A must for anyone interested in media practice.

Sandra Symons, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, University of Technology, Sydney

"Bearing Witness will appeal to a broad range of readers: students and practitioners in media and international relations, peaceniks, historians, thrill seekers and any member of the public curious about the personal, professional and diplomatic filters through which news is strained. Leith's underlying thesis is broader still, and her commitment undeniable. Invoking Sontag from Regarding the Pain of Others, she insists, "after a certain again (no one) has the right to this kind of innocence, of superficiality, to this degree of ignorance, or amnesia."

Sydney Morning Herald.

"...excellent book..."

Martin Woollacott (Foreign Editor The Guardian)

"...provide more than just a vivid snapshot of the international politics of the last two decades: they are history lessons, morality tales. They explore, from the inside, sometimes with alarming honesty, the ethical quandaries journalists and photographers face."

Morag Fraser, Australian Book

"Bearing Witness is as strong an anti-war book as one will get, its range of photographs alarmingly graphic, its interviews harrowing at times. Yet the book is one of love and hope."

Sydney City Weekly

"...insightful and at times touching..."

Sydney Inner West Virtual Library

"...excellent anthology..."

Australian Review of Public Affairs