Home > Whatever > Egypt and the legacy of Michael Ware

Egypt and the legacy of Michael Ware

Watching the US media’s coverage of Egypt the last couple of days, I miss Michael Ware terribly.

For those who don’t know or remember, he’s the face of CNN in Iraq, who covered more ground of the country than any known reporter.

Knowing little about the mess he was going to step in, Ware came to Iraq straight from Afghanistan in 2003, working as a TIME correspondent and later as CNN bureau chief. By the time the world learnt a thing or two about tribal factions, political chaos, and dead bodies in Iraq, he has already immersed himself in the life of the land, surrounded with local people who lived and died for him, and soon became a reporting staple whose words were listened by millions of CNN viewers and even the U.S. military personnels.

He told the stories he was there to. He brought the faces and the fate of the Iraq war onto the screen. His words often bursted out with a strong sense of urgency as he tried to convey the gravity of the situation on the ground to whoever cared to listen.

He dominated millions of living rooms daily. And then weekly. And then, as the world moved on, occasionally.

He escaped death a few times. He witnessed it on a daily basis.

Michael Ware came out of Iraq in 2009 with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). As CNN denied his request for a prolonged break to deal with the illness, he quitted. His personal story fell through the crack; a couple of blogs picked it up but did not follow through. His last public appearance was in the Australian’s ABC special feature Prisoner of War back in September 2010 (clip can be seen here; transcripts can be found here and here).

Through the years that I watched Ware on CNN, never once I heard the man talking about his own situation. He devoted the given time slots for the stories that he believed urgently needed to be told. Unresolved factional conflicts, struggles of the ordinary Iraqis, the impacts of insurgency on the society, and the ongoing threat to the US soldiers (whom he often called ‘the kids we sent to war’). He talked to the people on the street; he took part in patrols; he filmed gunfire at close range. The camera always pointed at the story.

It’s tough for any ground reporter to step in and fill Michael Ware’s shoes. It’s tough even for Ware to walk in his shoes for too long. “I’m not the same fucking person… I’m not the same person. I don’t know how to come home,” he once told a fellow journalist.

I certainly never wish to see the same mental damage done to him on anyone else.

But I do hope to see the same devotion and sense of responsibility.

Reporters go places to tell the story. So tell it.

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Categories: Whatever
  1. Edith Hendrickson
    10/02/2011 at 1:56 pm

    I wish the best for Michael Ware. I had a small sample of what it is like to run with fear. I was a stringer for CBS News for 7 years during the days of Manuel Noriega in Panama. Working in the News business is not like working for Google. They do not stand up for their reporters and at best you would get a blurb on the six o’clock news. I wish Michael a speedy recovery as his style of reporting is unique and needed.

    • CamLy
      11/02/2011 at 10:07 am

      Thanks for your comment Edith. I do have a deep respect for professionals like you and Ware. It’s a shame those news organizations don’t care to take good care of their true assets. To look at the brighter side, you and Ware get to experience life in ways most people can’t even phantom. So maybe it’s all worth it…

  2. Leobio
    18/02/2011 at 7:40 am

    you mean fathom :D

    • Anonymous
      18/02/2011 at 10:32 am

      Oops. Fathom I mean. Thank you for the correction. No phantom of the opera here.

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