The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tim Hetherington--Spreading enlightenment through exposure

To play with fire, one accepts the inevitability of being burned. Tim Hetherington was a pyromaniac of sorts, and gave his life to enlightening the masses about the humanity behind the line of fire that brought him down. There was no mission too dangerous or exotic to withhold his curious lens. In his initial hiring as a photojournalist, he worked for The Big Issue--a London newspaper sold by the homeless--from there securing an opportunity to cover the Second Civil War in Liberia. His stationing with TV reporter James Brabazon behind rebel lines was responsible for bringing an execution order from Liberian President Charles Taylor. Two documentaries were produced as a result of their work, his photographs being used for Liberia: An Uncivil War and the Darfur documentary The Devil Came on Horseback.
Critical acclaim was earned after his time in Afghanistan, spent in the Korengal Valley alongside Truth Award recipient Sebastian Junger as they produced their masterpiece Restrepo. The documentary leaves all opinions to the viewer as we are thrown in the frontline of the “Afghanistan of Afghanistan”, letting the soldiers of Second Platoon show and tell their stories without any embellishments. The film is named for field medic Juan Restrepo, one of the many casualties experienced in this campaign more akin to Vietnam than any US engagement since. Traipsing through a landscape hardly distinguishable from California canyon’s, the inevitabilities of drawing heavy fire through civilian territories calls a number of ethics into question as civilian, insurgent, and soldier are laid to waste all the same. Hetherington won the World Press Photo for 2007 with a shot of an exhausted soldier simultaneously clasping his forehead and helmet with his hands, summing up the sentiment of a nation at war for reasons not quite known.
In Libya this Wednesday, April 20th, 2011, an RPG round hit and killed Hetherington and fellow photographer Chris Hondros, injuring two other journalists simultaneously. They were travelling with rebel troops at the time, Hetherington’s final Tweet on Tuesday reading: “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”
His passion for relaying the hardships of the world through his photos are a massive addition to the popular media. “Tim was open to a whole part of reality that I and everyone I know was completely ignorant of,” Sebastian Junger says of his friend, in response to Hetherington taking a frenzy of photos while soldiers were asleep. All aspects of war and violence were sought after in his reporting to allow the population back home an unfiltered vantage into the reality of the brutality. His quest for the truth will not be forgotten and inspires me to continually question the reporting I am exposed to and to make critical judgments for myself, taking firsthand experience to be the only source worth trusting.

--Weston Finfer


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