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Friday, January 27, 2017

The price of admission to the press: You can't riot while you're working and expect your pass to protect you

The first time I got a press credential, in the mid-1970s, my boss made sure I knew having it was a privilege, not a right. “Don’t do anything that will make me ashamed of you,” he warned. I’ve kept those words in mind over the past 40 years, though I might not always have lived up to the standard he set. It’s something the current crop of young journalists might want to ponder.

Since then I have covered wars, riots, trials and crime scenes, always reminding myself that I was a spectator, not a participant. In Poland, I was chased down by riot police who didn’t care that I was a reporter. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and paid for it.

In El Salvador, I came upon the bodies of six Jesuit priests, two of whom I knew well, who had been murdered hours before. I wrote the story, and kept my personal feelings out of it.


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