On three occasions in the past 18 months, I had the privilege of interviewing British photojournalist Tim Hetherington who was killed yesterday covering the conflict in Libya.
Earlier this year, Hetherington was nominated for an Oscar for co-directing the documentary Restrepo with his colleague Sebastian Junger. The film followed a small platoon of U.S. soldiers in a remote and deadly outpost in Afghanistan.
I remember the Brooklyn-based Hetherington telling me why he and Junger so often risked their lives by working in combat zones.
His answer was plain and simple: “I’ve been a war correspondent for over ten years. My job is to go into very extreme places and immerse the viewer into that reality.”
That answer sums up what Tim was all about — dedication to his craft — and serving a wider purpose of bravely educating the public about conflicts being fought in their name.
The photojournalist had tremendous resilience. He told me how he coped with being injured in Afghanistan. He recalled: “I had a very traumatic scenario when I was in Afghanistan and I broke my leg during a combat operation. I really thought this is a bad scene.”
On that occasion Hetherington survived.
Yesterday, he did not — and the whole world of journalism is significantly worse off as a result.
Tom Brook‘s reports on cinema can be seen every Tuesday and Thursday morning on BBC America.