Journalists killed trying to find the truth

East Norwich native Marie Colvin, left, and French East Norwich native Marie Colvin, left, and French journalist Remi Ochlik, right, were identified by the French government as the two Western reporters killed in Syria on Feb. 22, 2012. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Syria's regime wants desperately to keep the world from knowing of the terrible violence it is inflicting on its people. Marie Colvin, an extraordinarily courageous foreign correspondent, was in Syria precisely because it was so important to tell the world what was going on.

Colvin's death yesterday, and that of French photographer RĂ©mi Ochlik, thus are doubly tragic, since their elimination can only make it easier for Syrian President Bashar Assad to pursue his bloody campaign against Syria's pro-democracy uprising.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Colvin, 56, who grew up in Oyster Bay, had had brushes with death before in her years covering violent conflicts overseas. In 2001 in Sri Lanka, she lost an eye to shrapnel. Yet in Syria, as elsewhere, she never lost sight of the human tragedy she was covering.

Sadly, the killing of Colvin and Ochlik wasn't an isolated incident. At least 900 journalists have been killed in the line of duty in the past two decades, nearly three-quarters of them murdered, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. It's unclear if Syrian forces targeted the house near Homs where Colvin and Ochlik were working. But if they did, it only underscores Assad's shameless brutality.

With the opposition putting the death toll close to 9,000, there is ample loss of life to lament in Syria. But Colvin and Ochlik, like correspondent Anthony Shadid of The New York Times, who died of asthma in Syria several days earlier, deserve special admiration. They didn't have to be there. For Syrians, it's tragic that now they're not.

You also may be interested in: