I never knew either Steven Sotloff or James Foley, but strangely enough I did know the man accused of beheading Foley. It’s a small world, and much more twisted than we expected. To be a freelancer in a war zone today is literally to take your life into your own hands, knowing that not one person on Earth has the job of looking after you. And you probably won’t get paid enough either.
by Jonah Shepp
Among the many pieces written in memory of Steven Sotloff since the news of his death broke on Monday, a few of them struck a particular chord with me, touching on the dangerous, precarious, but potentially greatly rewarding life of a freelance war correspondent: a job in which many young journalists cut their teeth and often make their careers. Michael Totten, who corresponded with Sotloff but never met him in person, remarks that he was “a hell of a lot braver than I am”:
I have not for even a second considered going to Syria during this conflict, and I doubt I’d be willing to go there even a couple of years from now if the conflict were to miraculously end later today. When he lived in Benghazi and everyone was heading for the exits, he told me—and I believed him—that Benghazi was the same old Benghazi, by which he meant mostly…
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