Danger shouldn't stop journalists, Dozier says

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WASHINGTON -- A CBS News correspondent badly injured in an Iraqi bomb attack that killed two members of her crew said Thursday that it was still crucial that journalists cover the war no matter how dangerous.

Kimberly Dozier was critically wounded and James Brolan and Paul Douglas killed when a car bomb exploded last Memorial Day while they traveled with U.S. troops in a Baghdad neighborhood. Dozier and ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff, critically wounded Jan. 29, 2006, by an IED were among those honored Thursday night at the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation First Amendment dinner at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C.

"I've been asked (by executives) if it's worth it (covering Iraq) ... I think we don't have a choice. We still have to go out on the ground," Dozier said. "We have to try to find the truth for our audiences back home and our leaders back home."

Dozier and Woodruff have both made miraculous recoveries from their injuries. Doctors feared that Dozier, for instance, would never walk again. Dozier hinted that she might return to a war zone someday.

"I hope to join you, not right away, but sometime soon," Dozier said.

Woodruff said that he and Dozier -- as well as Douglas, Brolan and Doug Vogt, who was hurt in the same blast as Woodruff -- were proof that reporting was not without risk. And he couldn't say why he and Dozier and Vogt were spared.

"I still don't think we'll ever, ever understand," Woodruff said. "But I know that we were very, very lucky." Woodruff called for journalists to spend more time "covering the planet" in a world where it's crucial to know about international stories and the U.S. cab scarcely afford to ignore them.

Fox News chairman/CEO Roger Ailes received the First Amendment Leadership Award for, among other things, his tireless efforts to save correspondent Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig last August after they were kidnapped in Gaza. Centanni was on hand to present the award to Ailes and said he and Wig owed their lives to Ailes behind-the-scenes, around-the-clock efforts that included Ailes' willingness to even go to Gaza.

"If our captors had known who they were up against, they never would have kidnapped us," Centanni said.

Ailes thanked who he called "the real heroes," Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin and Wiig's wife Anita McNaught as well as other people he said he couldn't mention. He also thanked the other networks who all said they would do whatever Fox News needed to save Wiig and Centanni.

"I just want you to know that if any of your people are in trouble, Fox will be there too," Ailes said.

Thursday night's event brought out the media and political elite in Washington and New York City. The Radio and Television News Directors Foundation annually honors on-air and off-air journalists who make a difference in press freedom and the First Amendment.

A First Amendment Service Award went to Philip S. Balboni, president and founder of New England Cable News. Balboni hired a number of nationally known journalists, including Fox News host Bill O'Reilly who offered a videotaped tribute.

Attendees included "Face the Nation" moderator Bob Schieffer, ABC's George Stephanapolous, FCC Chair Kevin Martin, FCC commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and House Telecommunications Committee Chair Edward Markey, D-Mass.
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