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Remembering Paul Douglas

Remembering Paul Douglas

Ahead of their August fundraiser for RPT, CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey remembers cameraman Paul Douglas, who was killed alongside freelancer James Brolan in Iraq nine years ago. Nine CBS News teams will be competing in London Triathlon on 8th August in memory of their fallen colleagues.

For reasons no one seems to be able to articulate, the words “looking for closure” have become a Pavlovian response to the death of friends, colleagues and anyone else we care about.

Given that the Oxford Dictionary defines it as: “A feeling that an emotional or traumatic experience has been resolved”, closure is a term that should not, and thankfully in the case of his friends and colleagues. cannot, be applied to the memory of Paul Douglas.
There is no more justifiable resolution to Paul’s death than there was rhyme or reason to the IED that took his life, and that of his friend and soundman James Brolan, on a Baghdad street corner nine years ago.
It is said of many people that they were “larger than life”, and in most cases, it’s a nice thought, but a cliché. To say that of Paul Douglas is to understate the case. He was physically huge, shaven-headed and had a booming voice that could silence a room with a syllable. That combination by its mere description would seem to be intimidating in the extreme, unless you knew his smile. It was a big as his heart, and his courage.

Paul also had that quintessential gift of all great cameramen; an ability to put emotion aside in order to do his job, and yet still feel and capture what TV can convey like no other medium — raw human emotion.

He cared deeply about victims of injustice. He cared nothing for any official, be they bureaucrat or gun-toter, who tried to stop him getting the pictures he wanted. More often than not he disarmed them with a mighty, gleaming grin. And if that didn’t work, he simply barged through and got on with his job. He revelled in his own cheekiness.
Paul, and others who have died or been wounded in the pursuit of their work, exposing injustice, brutality, inhumanity and suffering, don’t take risks for the adrenalin rush, not even in the belief that they could change the world.

They certainly put a lot of trust in judgment and experience, and that dubious ally luck. But above all they shared a generally unspoken conviction that they are doing a job that is both worthy and necessary, one that if done well would forbear the excuse so often offered by politicians and their ilk who ought to stand up and be counted…”we didn’t know”. Yes you did, because people like Paul Douglas risked their lives to tell you. That should no more be forgotten than can we forget those who paid the price.
As someone who worked with Paul on many a dicey, bad, and even fun assignment, I can say without fear of contradiction that today not a story is shot by a CBS team in a dubious place without his name being mentioned — “Paul would have loved…’, or…”this is the kind of ‘shite’ where we could use the big bugger eh?” — or other such irreverent but loving remarks to that effect.
“Looking for closure” be damned.
Allen Pizzey is a correspondent for CBS News. 

This is the second part of the CBS News teams’ tributes to their fallen colleagues. Read Nick Turner's tribute to James Brolan.

To date, CBS News has raised just over £13,000 through their JustGiving page. As we head into the last few weeks before the event, please give as much as you can to help them reach their target in time for the
 London Triathlon on 8 August.
Please also keep an eye out on our Twitter and Facebook feeds for updates and news about the big day.
Images courtesy of CBS News

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