I know it is very easy to stick the boot into journalists. After all there is not enough investigative journalism or campaigning journalism, certainly in the British Press, but far too much emphasis on worthless celebrities and bleating vacuous, columnists (Yes I appreciate the irony of criticising columnists from a blog). And then I visit Bayeux in August and I go to the Journalist memorial and I am reminded that not every journalist is a Lunchtime O Booze style hack
When I was visiting old friend in Paris in August, we made a spur of the moment decision to visit Bayeux. I had never been there and I wanted to see the Tapestry, My friend, who had been there before wanted to see the journalist Memorial.
In 2007 Reporters Without Borders and the town of Bayeux inaugurated a Journalists Memorial to honour over 2,000 journalists (the most recent being Mexican Norberto Miranda Madrid, murdered on 23 September) who have been killed since 1944 while doing their job. Many are killed reporting on military conflict, but far more are killed for writing what others do not wish to see published.
It is a peaceful memorial, consisting of white stones bearing the names of the dead journalists. Some years, mercifully, have no deaths; some have a few including my birth year (1963) when two Vietnamese photographers died. It is depressing to see that recent years have far more deaths than the years of worldwide conflagration. The death rate appears to be increasing, as our insane propensity for warfare continues and as murder is used more often to silence truth-seekers.
"It’s the only place in the world where my husband’s name is carved in stone,” said Michèle Montas, widow of murdered Haitian journalist Jean Dominique,
Jean Dominique was an exceptionally brave man. The founder of Haiti’s first Independent Radio Station, he was a vocal opponent of the Duvaliers. Dominique, had to flee Haiti twice in 1980 and 1991, He returned for the last time in 1994.
In his final years he concentrated on issues of corruption and negligence. He took on former police chief Dany Toussaint whom he accused of having his rival for the position of Secretary of State for Public Security. On 3 April 2000 Dominique was shot four times in the chest as he arrived for work at Radio Haïti. Toussaint was almost certainly responsible.
Dominique is memorialised in Bayeux, Toussaint is alive and well and immune from prosecution.
If you are in Bayeux, it is well worth the visit