Watchdog Blog

Barry Sussman: Tahrir Square and Lara Logan

Posted at 9:09 pm, February 16th, 2011
Barry Sussman Mug

I was preparing to put Peter Turnley’s celebratory photos of Tahrir Square on this site when word came that Lara Logan of CBS had been brutally assaulted even as he was taking the pictures.

The photos are ones of marvelous triumph. A 2001 Nieman Fellow, Turnley is an expert at this kind of thing: when there’s a major event anywhere in the world, he makes his way to it and lets his camera rip. As he writes in the accompanying picture story, he decided to go from New York to Cairo only a few days before Hosni Mubarak resigned, and he got there just in time. He brought along extra camera equipment and played that old customs trick – had one camera in a camera bag and hid the rest – but his luggage was never examined.

There are more than 40 pictures that go with Peter’s article; I picked the one of the two young women in a crowd as the main illustration because of the time it was taken: 9:10 PM. It may have been at that moment, or not far from it, that Lara Logan was so brutally attacked. The CBS report simply said the assault occurred that night.

There are some serious, unanswered questions at this point. To me a main one is how the Egyptian army responds. It was soldiers and a group of women that saved Logan but an early report suggested the perpetrators may never be caught. That doesn’t sound right. Her rescuers were right on the scene as were scores, possibly hundreds or more of Egyptians who must have been horrified by the brutal attack by gangs of men on a lone, helpless woman.

So a main question is: What is the Egyptian Army doing: How hard is it going after these thugs? Possibly we’ll hear soon of arrests in this case, you’d think that would happen. It’s the right thing to do and it would generate some good will abroad. But the generals also would pick up some good will by offering a public apology. And a sizeable reward for information might help locate these animals. As yet I haven’t seen where there has been a public apology or a reward offered.

There are other questions for the press as well. Are news organizations providing enough security for reporters in dangerous situations? Will what happened in Egypt make things better for journalists in the Mideast, or will it embolden would-be attackers? Sexual assault on journalists is apparently more common than many of us may have thought, according to a blog by Lauren Wolfe of the Committee to Protect Journalists. And it’s an especially persistent problem in Egypt, writes Mary Rogers, a CNN producer and camerawoman who has lived and worked there since 1994.

This awful incident doesn’t take away from the enormous triumph of the Egyptian people; it couldn’t do that. But it does take away from the euphoria of the moment.

2 Responses to “Tahrir Square and Lara Logan”

  1. Roger L. Harmon says:

    I as many are terribly upset that an attack on one of our journalist has taken place in her “work place”. It is my hope the Bureaus with revisit their security policies for their crews. Male or female reporters must be allowed to function with minimal fear of personal safety. I am concerned that even in such a fast-moving situation Ms Logan was separated from her crew. I have no real knowledge of the security protocals involved with them, but certainly changes in approach are necessary

    I am equally saddened by many of the comments made from conservative pundits and bloggers taking advantage of Ms Logans misfortune to printwise stick their finger in the eye of entire population and religion. Civility for many was put aside for an oppurtunity to paint with wide slashes of black ink that which they purposed to cover, to comment on, to evaluate.

    Ms Logan’s style of reporting, her willingness to go where her story might be is well known. She is certainly to be commended for excellence in broadcasting. It is my hope that she will recover from this malacious attack fully and return to doing the work in which she excels, in which she provides a distinct role model for younger journalists.

  2. Israel Oren says:

    Maybe another question should be asked. Did any Arab Country Leader condemn the Attack? Or, maybe it is part of the Religion of Peace to defile Western Infidel Pigs? (That is Islam’s wording). Did any Muslim Religious Leader condemn the Attack? You will find that the Attack on Lara was just a fulfillment of Islamic Ideals. To butter up the truth, and not concede the truth about Islam is inviting other attacks such as happened to Lara.

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