John Hoagland and the deadly commute

Baughman, J. Ross
May 1984
Columbia Journalism Review;May/Jun1984, Vol. 23 Issue 1, p24
This article offers a look at the killing of Newsweek photojournalist John Hoagland on March 16, 1984. Hoagland had returned to El Salvador from a Beirut assignment only a week before he was caught in a cross fire between government and guerrilla troops about sixteen miles north of San Salvador. He himself has said that the chances being killed in El Salvador, where twenty-one foreign and local reporters have been killed in the last five years, were much greater than in Lebanon. John Hoagland,a gutsy and conscientious photojournalist, made his base in San Salvador. He stuck close to the press corps community at the Hotel Camino Real; he played guide, news source, Dutch uncle, interpreter; he had contacts on both sides, stayed cool under fire, studied military history, and repeatedly pushed himself to the limits of his physical endurance. John Hoagland's death, a cause of sadness and grief among the his colleagues, must serve as a warning to the press corps remaining in Central America that the white-flag strategy simply will not work. To minimize the chances of another journalist getting killed the way Hoagland did, editors will have to invest in specialties who cover only one side at a time. For their part, journalists on the scene will have to set aside one of their favorite notions: that war can be put into perspective with daily vignette from each side.


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