A Role Model

April 8, 2004
Category: Uncategorized

A year later, the images remain just as powerful. Especially when you’ve gotten to know one of the photographers who captured them.

When the Pulitzers were announced this week, the winners included Cheryl Diaz Meyer and David Leeson of the Dallas Morning News. Their coverage of the Iraq war won the prize for breaking news photography.

You may have seen some of their photographs over the past year. They are a stunning collection of images that are intense, emotional, engaging, and sometimes quiet. Their photos capture the story through the eyes of the people.

I had the pleasure of being a judge in the NPPA Best of Photojournalism contest with Cheryl a few weeks back and I was very impressed by her openness and passion for storytelling, her great energy, and her humility. I guess I would describe her as a regular chick you can’t help but have fun with.

Cheryl was embedded with a Marine tank battallion that travelled across the desert and into Baghdad. She kept a daily journal of her experiences that ranged from the mundane to adrenaline-laced close calls with enemy fire:

After weeks of waiting for action, painfully bored and anxious, we seem to have gotten it “en force” with the Second Tank Battallion. Each day seems to be increasingly hectic as we race toward Baghdad, blowing through town after town of opposition, only waiting to resupply for amunition and to evacuate the dead and injured.

Not only did she bring an important story home, but her own story as a female embedded journalist is important for all journalists to learn from. In a segment of journalism where women are the minority, the collective experiences of Cheryl Diaz Meyer, Carolyn Cole of the L.A. Times, who won the Pulitizer for feature photography, and women journalists like them, offer an important perspective on the role of women who cover war and conflict.

They become the role models for the new crop of women photojournalists. And Cheryl Diaz Meyer is a good role model for all journalists.