Marie Colvin: “committed to telling the real story of war”

February 23, 2012

Friends and colleagues of Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin gathered at the Frontline Club last night after hearing of her death during a rocket attack on the besieged city of Homs. 

There were many tributes to Marie Colvin – and great stories – all recognising the qualities that made her a great journalist and remarkable friend.

Marie was killed alongside French photographer Remi Ochlik when a shell hit the makeshift press centre they were working in.

Founder of the Frontline Club Vaughan Smith said that Marie "didn’t just lose her life covering wars": "She committed herself to telling the real story of war with all that actually entails. She was one of the very best at it and was equally loved and respected by her peers."

John Owen, founding chairman of Frontline Club, said: “I can’t think of another journalist who was so universally admired”. Describing her as a “ferociously brave reporter” who was “yet so humble” about her own work, he added: “She refused to leave Dili because she thought that by staying and reporting, the Indonesians wouldn’t kill the East Timorese. She refused to walk away from frontline reporting after being targeted and losing her eye in Sri Lanka.”

The Club room fell silent for Channel 4 News’ tribute to Marie Colvin when it came on the Club room’s TV. Lindsey Hilsum, who paid tribute to Marie on the programme, said in a blog post, My Friend, Marie:

“She was exactly where she believed she should be, doing what she believed she had to do when she was killed by a rocket launched by President Bashar al-Assad’s army. The rest of us are left to work out whether we agree with her that it was worth it.”

Marie, who had hoped to be able to moderate tomorrow’s discussion on Syria, remained in the Baba Amr neighbourhood, which she said in an email to staff at the Frontline Club was at the “epicentre of the storm”.

She had decided to stay, she said, because "They are killing with impunity. Sadly I wont be able to make 24th have decided I should stay and write what I can to expose what is happening here.."

Writing in the New York Times, Neil MacFarquahar wrote that during a farewell dinner in Beirut Marie had told him: “I cannot remember any story where the security situation was potentially this bad, except maybe Chechnya”.

Henry Porter, Vanity Fair’s London editor wrote yesterday: "This evening the news from Homs has been silenced. We don’t know how many people have been killed or what areas of the town are under bombardment—and that is because one of the bravest people ever to file a story is dead, and can no longer be there to bear witness."

Her mother, Rosemarie Colvin, told the New York Times it had been pointless to try to dissuade her daughter from going to conflict zones”

“If you knew my daughter,” she said, “it would have been such a waste of words. It just wasn’t something that would even be on the plate at all. She was determined, she was passionate about what she did, it was her life. There was no saying ‘Don’t do this.’ This is who she was, absolutely who she was and what she believed in: cover the story, not just have pictures of it, but bring it to life in the deepest way you could.”

Here’s a full round-up of tributes to Marie Colvin from Frontline Club blogger Daniel Bennett