From besieged cities in Syria to American street-corners, and countless other places in between, armed violence continues to take the lives of hundreds of thousands of people a year. It fundamentally reshapes the world we live in. Yet for a vast number of people, violence and conflict are abstractions far removed from their daily realities.
Journalists are the bridge between those peaceful and violent worlds. Without their bravery and determination to bring the realities of armed violence to the rest of the world, we would neither understand nor be able to address the issues that cause and propagate violence.
Here, AOAV celebrates 100 men and women who we consider to number the most influential writers and broadcasters covering armed violence and conflict around the world, as chosen by our staff.
This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of journalists covering armed conflict. Rather it reflects AOAV’s belief that, just as armed violence takes many forms, the most important journalism is not necessarily always found on CNN or in the pages of the Sunday Times. Our list therefore strikes a balance between the established and the emerging, from correspondents with hundreds of international credits and decades of experience to those who have demonstrated incredible potential from just a few stories.
Several categories of journalists are not represented here. Our list focuses on journalists working primarily in the spoken or written word – writers, TV and radio correspondents, and some documentary makers. Photographers and videographers are no less courageous, talented or important than those on this list, but they are not represented here. We will leave that to another list. We also did not include correspondents who are retired or inactive, regardless of the strength of their past contributions.
Rather the goal of the list is to highlight those whose work has illuminated difficult and complex issues of violence in the past and who are continuing to do so going forward.
We believe that the journalists on this list are exceptional for a number of reasons. Their physical courage – going to war zone after war zone, relaying the ground truth despite the very real risks of injury, imprisonment, torture and death – is commendable on its own merits. No less so is their moral courage: disputing the official narratives of war and armed conflict, challenging the powerful and ruthless.
But these journalists should also be considered exceptional because of their love of the truth. Not everyone entrusted with the public trust displays such qualities.
Compiling this list was no easy task. We are sure there are some names that should be on it, but are not. Some journalists are just not known to us. And, as our accompanying data analysis piece notes, the composition of the list demonstrates that news organisations have some ways to go when it comes to increasing the diversity and representativeness of their foreign correspondents.
But it is entirely to the credit of the profession that such examples are rare. That most news organisations have dozens of exceptionally talented and courageous correspondents, for there are hundreds other reporters who lie beyond the scope of this list but whose work is praiseworthy and important.
AOAV staff combed through hundreds of news stories, blog posts and video and audio reports and consulted with leading experts on journalism to come up with the following 100 names.
We commend those we have listed for their excellent and vital work. Keep that faith.