December 4th, 2008
05:32 PM ET

Voices of hope in the face of evil

Program Note: Christiane Amanpour introduces you to the courageous few who saw evil and tried to stop the killing. December 4, 9 p.m. ET

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/europe/11/24/sbm.amanpour.essay/art.amanpour.jpg caption="CNN's Christiane Amanpour in a Sarajevo cemetery; she returned to Bosnia for "Scream Bloody Murder.""]

Christiane Amanpour | BIO
CNN International Correspondent

No one teaches reporters how to cover a war, much less wars that include genocide. Most of us rely on the wisdom of experienced colleagues and a lot of on-the-job training.

My first war assignment - Bosnia, in the 1990s - included visits to the Sarajevo morgue to see the bodies. How else would a journalist know exactly how many Muslim children were cut down by Bosnian Serb snipers? How else could we put names to civilians left faceless by mortar shells from the surrounding hills? I learned what it means to bear witness.

I found my voice and my mission in Bosnia. I learned to seek the facts, to tell the truth no matter how difficult or unpopular. I learned that objectivity meant covering all sides and giving all sides their hearing, but never to draw a false moral equivalence when none exists. I learned never to equate victims with their aggressors. I learned that there are limits to the style of journalism that goes: "On the one hand, on the other hand."

Most of all, I learned that as reporters our words and our actions have consequences and that we must use this powerful platform, television, responsibly.

But how many times have people asked me, when I've come back from a place like Bosnia or Rwanda: Is it really that bad? I have found that many people want to believe that I am exaggerating. I guess they do not want to believe such evil can exist. Or perhaps they just do not want to be pushed into that moral space where they would have to take a stand and do something.