Injury Highlights Woodruff's Role as Reporter ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff's is recovering after he and a cameraman were injured Sunday in a roadside bombing north of Baghdad. Woodruff sought to define his role as an anchor who is also a reporter -- the kind who sometimes puts himself in harm's way.
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Injury Highlights Woodruff's Role as Reporter

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Injury Highlights Woodruff's Role as Reporter

Injury Highlights Woodruff's Role as Reporter

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From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Michele Norris.

ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt are recovering from surgery at an American military hospital in Germany. They suffered serious wounds to the head and upper body in a roadside bombing yesterday in Iraq. They were traveling with an Iraqi army convoy. As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, Woodruff sought to define his role as an anchor who also happens to be a reporter, even if it meant putting himself in harm's way.


It's been a wrenching time for people at ABC News. Revered anchor Peter Jennings died less than a year ago and it took months before Elizabeth Vargas of ABC's 20/20 and weekend anchor and reporter Bob Woodruff were named as a team to replace him. They just started weeks ago and Woodruff soon headed to the Middle East. ABC's Good Morning America played a clip of Woodruff today recounting the advice he received from Jennings.

Mr. BOB WOODRUFF (Reporter, ABC News): Something Peter said to me many times over the years is be careful about wanting to go into a position like this, of anchoring, because it's gonna take away from what is really the greatest things you often do, which is reporting out in the field.

FOLKENFLIK: Woodruff was a lawyer in his late twenties when he caught the bug for reporting while in Beijing in 1989. It was during the Tiananmen Square Protests and he helped CBS News as a translator there. He later worked in local television in this country. After joining ABC News, Woodruff reported from Kosovo, Pakistan, North Korea, and Iraq. ABC Senior White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz says anchors need to have that kind of experience.

Ms. MARTHA RADDATZ (ABC News): Today's anchor handles breaking news; they do that live. If they don't know what they're talking about, the viewer will know. These are not people who are reading scripts.

FOLKENFLIK: But it's dangerous work. Iraqi insurgents do not consider journalists to be noncombatants. Instead, reporters are often targets. Jill Carroll, a freelancer for the Christian Science Monitor, was abducted by militants who were demanding the release of prisoners. A new videotape broadcast today on Al-Jazeera shows a weeping Carroll pleading for their release. ABC's Martha Raddatz has been to Iraq nine times and she says there's another peril for ABC and its network competitors.

Ms. RADDATZ: It's very, very tough for television. It's hard to hide. I mean, you have a cameraman and you have a soundman and you pretty obviously stand out in those areas.

FOLKENFLIK: The journalism advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, says 79 media professionals have been killed since the start of the U.S. led invasion in 2003. Joe Galloway is the Senior Military Correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers.

Mr. JOE GALLOWAY (Knight Ridder Newspaper): This a war like none other I've seen in four decades, from Vietnam to today.

FOLKENFLIK: Galloway had been back from Iraq about a week when he heard of the bombing that injured Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt.

Mr. GALLOWAY: I thought it could have been any of us. You go down the road in Iraq, any road, you're at that risk.

FOLKENFLIK: Galloway says the risk they took was understandable.

Mr. GALLOWAY: Those two gentlemen from ABC were standing in the rear hatch of armored vehicles; it's the only way you can see anything.

FOLKENFLIK: Yet some critics of television anchors say they're hot-dogging when they drop into trouble zones and turn themselves into the story. Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather was known for heading to dangerous spots, whether approaching hurricanes or wars. MSNBC tried to make Ashley Banfield into a star by sending her to Central Asia for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan; she washed out. But former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite says anchors need to get into the field so they can understand the stories they present.

Mr. WALTER CRONKITE (Former anchorman, CBS News): There's a difference between that and showboating. And there is some showboating, usually it's obvious, to us journalists anyway, whether it's obvious to the public, I don't know.

FOLKENFLIK: On Good Morning America, ABC News President David Westin said Woodruff sought out more time in Iraq because he was a reporter at heart.

Mr. DAVID WESTIN (President, ABC News): Bob always wanted to go wherever the story was, he's always been the first to volunteer and the first to go there. He'd been to Iraq several times. He actually was anxious to get back because it had been a while since he'd been there.

FOLKENFLIK: Westin says the network carefully weighs the risks to its reporters and crews every day. Cameraman Doug Vogt was said to be in better shape than Bob Woodruff. In an interview broadcast on ABC News's Web edition this afternoon, Woodruff's brother said the anchor has shown improvement during his treatment in Germany.

David Folkenflik, NPR News, Washington.

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