Comparison Between Marie Colvi Essay, Research Paper
Comparison Between Marie Colvin and
Primo Levi s Journalistic Works
In this essay I will compare the ways in which two journalists have managed to give reportage of an event. The first reportage is by Marie Colvin and the text is known as Baghdad under fire . The second is by Primo Levi and the text is known as On The Bottom . These two pieces are quite different in their actual subject matters and also in the way that they are expressed. Colvin s intentions were, by writing this piece to expose some of the realities of the Allied (mainly American) bombing campaign. The facts were very often silenced and or blurred in order to keep the general public supporting the war effort. The realities were that many innocent civilians were also being killed or having their livelihoods ruined. Colvin wanted to allow the general public to be able to see through the propaganda circulating at the time. Levi has written On the Bottom in an attempt to expose the truths about what happened to Jews in concentration camps. He also wants to tell other people how he is feeling, as he is clearly disturbed by what he has been through. Perhaps he believed that by expressing himself in this way he might rid himself of an emotional burden.
During the course of reading the two reports the biggest thing to strike me was the very clear difference in the way in which the author involved him/herself with the presentation of the fact. Levi makes no secret of his emotional feelings, especially here:
We Italians had decided to meet every Sunday evening in a corner of the Lager, but we stopped it at once, because it was too sad to count our numbers and find fewer each time
To me this shows that Levi is showing direct emotional involvement. This is not necessarily a good thing as it may well have clouded his judgement and made the entire piece useless if trying to use it to show a true representation of the Holocaust, for the piece may well be biased. While Colvin s Baghdad under fire may well be biased, the way in which the piece is expressed could not be any more different to that of Primo Levi. Colvin decided to adopt a completely deadpan style of reporting, with no direct emotional involvement. This is shown very clearly here:
Hussein agonised. Baghdad was home; perhaps thieves would come to the empty souk and steal his carpets; but there was no business anyway because everybody was hoarding their money.
She has however chosen the people whom she interviews whom she feels will best express her own views. This means that Colvin does not appear to for or against either the allies or Saddam. I do feel though that Colvin indirectly expresses her emotions, again, by interviewing those who will show this, for example:
My taxi driver . said he was not at the front because he had a piece of shrapnel in his head.
Because Colvin is reporting about destroyed civilian homes, dead civilians, civilians having to leave Baghdad, civilians being forced into bankruptcy and the like it seems to shows that she accepts these things as facts which people outside of Iraq needed informing of, i.e. they did not know; maybe she herself didn t know of these facts before she arrived. When she describes the damage caused by missiles and bombs she really is showing her private view, which is not shared by the general public. The general public were fed with strings of lies, especially about the accuracy of cruise missiles. Levi does not seem show any surprises he may have had during his stay in Auschwitz. I think that this is because nobody tried to keep the nazi s activities secret from the Jews.
Clearly they will kill us, whoever thinks they will not is mad, it means he has swallowed the bait, but I have not;
Levi uses other characters in his report to mirror his own thoughts. For example:
There is nowhere to look in a mirror, but our appearance stands in front of us, reflected in a hundred livid faces, in a hundred sordid puppets.
Here Levi has said this because he is trying to show that they have been stripped of all, even their own individuality. In Baghdad under fire , Colvin again uses characters she meets to show her own opinions, as said previously. Surprisingly, Levi does not mention any characters from public life, other than the SS in the camp, whereas Colvin constantly refers to prominent figures. I think that this is because Levi wants to show the camp worker s lack of any connections to the outside world; they had no knowledge of any activities going on outside of the camp. Colvin mentions prominent public figures as many people from allied countries were very interested as to why a dictator such as Saddam Hussein had so much public support.
I think that Colvin was very concerned that the public view was inconsistence with what was actually happening. The same applies to Levi, whom I think wanted to make sure that nobody was under any sort of delusion of the goings on in work camps in that area, at that time. Colvin s point of view can be seen when she goes into great detail of the effect of the allied bombing campaign. Levi uses this statement which I thought made it very clear what his point of view of the camp was:
this is not a sanatorium, the only exit is by way of the Chimney.
Levi was indeed concerned that public get to know what happened in the work camps, as I believe he thought it would allow for a more peaceful world.
The language that Levi uses in his reportage makes everything somehow seem as though the events he describes are nothing out of the ordinary. He tends to avoid showing his own emotion, which leads to a seemingly emotionless piece; of course Levi is very much emotionally affected. Perhaps Levi is trying to make sure that the reader makes up his own mind. This is of course a basic rule of good journalism. Colvin does the same thing, except for she seems even more deed pan because the material she has produced is very controversial, yet she sees no need to back this up with her own emotions, simply what she says she sees.
To conclude, both writers have produced excellent accounts of several very different experiences and events yet have both used some of the same basic methods of expressing themselves, despite Levi giving a subjective account while Colvin gave an very objective account.