BOB GARFIELD: Tuesday at 9 p.m. Eastern on the Trio Channel marks the debut of Journalists: Killed in the Line of Duty, an independent film documenting the diverse stories of six who died trying to get the news out. The film, produced in association with the Committee to Protect Journalists, features narrations by Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, Christiane Amanpour and NPR's Ann Garrels -- famous names, all -- reflecting on the lives and deaths of colleagues such as Edgar Damalerio, who toiled for a small Philippines paper amid great danger, anonymous to the world outside. Steven Rosenbaum of Camera Planet directed the film, and he joins me now. Steve, welcome back to OTM.
STEVEN ROSENBAUM: Thank you very much.
BOB GARFIELD: One of the journalists in your film was murdered by a corrupt cop in league with the drug trade in the Philippines. Others were killed in apparent battlefield accidents. Another, the Wall Street Journal's Danny Pearl, in a terrorist kidnapping. And another, NBC's David Bloom from a blood clot suffered apparently as a direct result of covering the war in Iraq in very cramped conditions. What do these very diverse tragedies have to do with one another?
STEVEN ROSENBAUM: Well, the way the film was conceived, you have to understand -- it began in the shadow of 9/11 -- and as I began to look around the world and found myself more connected to stories that were international as opposed to domestic, what I was hearing from people was that democracy was seen as synonymous with journalism around the world, and you know, a story like Damalerio's in the Philippines is a fabulous example. Here's this handsome young man, work a beautiful young baby boy, who says to his new wife "I have to tell the truth. If I don't, who else will?" He knew he was risking his life, but he knew there was corruption in the Philippines, and he saw this emerging democracy around him as something that he wanted to support and foster. And, you know, as a journalist in America, I, I found myself as I learned about his story and others, just embarrassed in a strange way -- like, why do I take for granted this thing called journalism which all around the world people are willing to die for?
BOB GARFIELD:I, I myself got choked up at the story of Raffaele Ciriello, the Italian photographer who died in Ramallah in street fighting there by rounds from an Israeli tank. Your film shows the real-time footage in Ciriello's video camera as he falls dead. [TAPE PLAYS] [AUTOMATIC GUNFIRE, SHOUTS] [MAN SPEAKING IN ITALIAN]
INTERPRETER: Everything was sudden. I saw Raffaele falling down, and I didn't realize he was shot.
BOB GARFIELD: It's not graphic, per se, but it's disturbing. As a filmmaker, was that a hard decision to make, to include that footage?
STEVEN ROSENBAUM: No, no, it was, it was an easy decision, because the challenge of the film from the outset was -- how do you take 46 names -- 44 of which no Americans have ever heard of --and make people connect with them in a way that makes you understand that these 46 people should not have died. They were doing really important work in really difficult places around the world, and we need to worry about the fact that they continue to die. So that tape, and, and some other things in the film as well (which are very emotional and some of them very private) were included to find a way to say to people: these were human beings that you need to care about.
BOB GARFIELD:The story of the Palestine Hotel stands out dramatically in substance and in tone from the others. Two journalists were killed there by that American tank round in what has been described as "the fog of war," poor communication, between the, the U.S. command and the troops on the ground. And Christiane Amanpour sounds very bitter and to say nothing of skeptical of the Pentagon's treatment of this episode. Let's hear a bit of her report.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: U.S. military officials first tried to say they were not aware the Palestine was full of journalists, and they also claim that hostile fire was coming from the hotel. But news organizations with staff at the Palestine had given the Pentagon its precise coordinates --before the war began. And journalists there insist that no one was firing from their hotel. The U.S. Department of Defense conducted its own internal review, but despite repeated requests, has not made the full report public.
BOB GARFIELD:Steve, the CPJ concluded that the Palestine Hotel incident was at worst probably the result of miscommunications. Now [LAUGHS] do you and Christiane know something that we don't know?
STEVEN ROSENBAUM: Well, you know, a couple of people have said to me "Do you think she went too far in your film? She's really strident. She calls the government on the carpet." And I - you know, with all due respect to our colleagues, I think the answer is the opposite. I think the real question is "Why aren't there 50 voices asking to see this report?" I don't claim to know anything more about what happened. I do know how the government reacted to killing journalists which was to shrug their shoulders and say -- "You know --dangerous times -- people die." And I don't think that's an acceptable answer.
BOB GARFIELD:In the category of what if a tree falls in the forest and nobody there to, to hear the sound -- this is appearing on the Trio Channel which is in not an enormous number of American homes. Is anyone going to see the film?
STEVEN ROSENBAUM: It's a fair question, and I have to say Trio was a fabulous partner. We actually went looking for a network that we internally called Switzerland. What we knew was if we did it on CNN, we wouldn't get NBC's participation; we wouldn't get CBS's -- and vice versa - the networks are all so competitive. And so-- at the end of the day, Trio has 22 million homes. It will probably be seen by, you know, one would hope, a couple of million people in the U.S. Then it will make its way internationally into a couple of deals that are pending. Then it will make its way to home video and theatrical. This is a film that will be around for a very long time, and you know, for an independent film to start out with a million viewers, a million and a half viewers is a big leg up for this kind of topic. I think we're going to be very pleased.
BOB GARFIELD: Well, Steve, thank you very much.
STEVEN ROSENBAUM: Thank you.
BOB GARFIELD: Steven Rosenbaum directed Journalists: Killed in the Line of Duty which debuts Tuesday at 9 Eastern on the Trio Channel.