Kidnapped journalist now free

Amanda Lindhout has been freed after being kidnapped 15 months ago.

Amanda Lindhout is now free after 15 months of being held captive and the profound relief and happiness of her family and friends must be off the scale.

This space here at On Deadline has long thought about how its final post about Lindhout’s ordeal would look like.Would it be a positive one, buoyed with happiness and relief for Lindhout, Nigel Brennan and their family and friends? Or, would it be a sombre one, reflective, angry and full of helpless thought and exasperation?

When my eyes registered the name Amanda Lindhout in a headline on the newswire the other day, my heart jumped and time simply halted. My initial reaction was negative but I almost literally jumped out of my computer chair at work when I read the headline to its end and saw the word “freed”.

I do not know Lindhout, nor Brennan but their plight struck me right from the beginning I came across it. The ensuing chats, emails and discussions with people who knew Lindhout or simply wanted to know more, as their kidnapping turned from days to weeks, months and then a year simply brought them to my everyday thoughts even more.

It was encouraging to talk with fellow journalists and bloggers who grappled with the same issues I did. Do we write about it? Do we continue to bring attention to their kidnapping while knowing such attention could be used against them, increasing the demands of their captors? How to deliver and spread the word delicately, tastefully and not seem self-promotional?

Whether you care to understand the fact or not, journalists and photographers, from big city papers to small town weeklies are a society’s ears, eyes and conscience. Their career is a calling.

When debates began to rage a bit this summer that claimed reporters like Lindhout and Brennan deserve what they get by trying to report in places like Somalia I could not believe what I was hearing. Without journalists willing to pursue and tell the difficult and dark stories in various spots worldwide, how often would we be kept in the dark? Also, simply because they are freelance reporters does not make their intended work less worthy, nor their lives.

I wondered, would the same people, who chastised Lindhout, deride and belittle the death of a cop or firefighter, saying they simply got what they deserved for choosing such careers? Whether you care to understand the fact or not, journalists and photographers, from big city papers to small town weeklies are a society’s ears, eyes and conscience. Their career is a calling.

The above questions and  issues were all the more interesting, I learned, since with your own blog, you are publisher, editor and advisory board all in one.

In the end, it was you, the On Deadline reader, the ones who took the time to comment or email me about Lindhout, that helped me find a path to keep writing and informing you, let alone pursue outreach via other outlets.

All the best to the Lindhout and Brennan families and let’s all be thankful this is a story with a happy ending.

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