Mast Fall 2001
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From the Front Lines:

Saying goodbye

D-Day for Operation Anaconda

Entering the fray

Left in the dark

Weathering the combat

Realities of the job

Making hard choices

 

Other Features Stories:

We're Changing Things

A Degree of Difficulty

United by a Friend

From the Front Lines

Realities of the job

Looking back, Savidge acknowledges the fear and danger involved in covering such assignments.

"I think you focus on, I guess, the opportunity. I enjoy a challenge, and any sort of military conflict is a challenge. Yes, there's a certain sense of vibrato, of risk taking, of, if you want to call it, extreme journalism in this day and age with extreme sports and extreme adventure. I focus on (the fact that) there are great stories to be told, that these are going to be memorable moments for both me and the audience. It's good to be afraid. It's good to be afraid in any sort of military or war operation because fear, even as the soldiers tell you, makes you sharp. One of the first conversations the cameraman and I had was, 'What would you think about going back?' We had already anticipated that question, and CNN asked. We said 'Yeah, we'd love to go back,' but the problem with going back is you feel like you know what to expect. The edge is taken off and you would've looked at your shot and said I can do better, I can get closer, and then you start pushing yourself beyond the level of fear.

"We did go back two days later, much to the anger of other media who hadn't even gone in once. Things had quieted down significantly by that point."

One way he handled the fear was having confidence in all the people he works with: the cameraman, sound techs, producers. They watched out for one another. "I think in any circle like that we look after each other."

CNN also provided its journalists with war zone training by special forces soldiers.

Savidge says he prepares for an overseas assignment by spending about three hours every day trying to study up on a broad range of topics.

"If an area suddenly blossomed into crisis, I would focus on those areas because there's a good chance I may go."

An assignment for which he had the least time to prepare interrupted a Sunday family picnic. He received a call assigning him to East Timor in Indonesia; he had to catch a plane within a few hours.

"It was emotional bedlam. One, I've torn my family apart. Not only are those plans trashed, but I'm leaving and heading to someplace extremely dangerous. My wife can tell you better than I of the emotions she runs through, wanting to help me but also being very angry and very frightened."

NEXT: Making hard choices

 

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