In the past five years alone, CBS reporter Lara Logan was sexually assaulted by a frenzied Egyptian mob, diagnosed with breast cancer and forced to take a leave of absence after a Benghazi story was shown to have major flaws.
But none of that has stopped her from pursuing difficult stories.
“It wasn’t easy; I won’t pretend it was easy. It was incredibly hard. But life is hard,” she said in an interview this week before a speaking appearance at the Capitol Theatre in Yakima.
“And if it’s worth fighting for, then you know that. You know it in your gut.”
Logan, 45, has worked as a correspondent for CBS since 2002, spending many years on the ground in combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. She also traveled to Liberia to cover an Ebola treatment center in 2014.
During her Sept. 28 presentation, the South Africa native shared dozens of stories of her time in the Middle East, including the lengths she and her team have gone to in order to gain access to dangerous or heavily guarded areas.
Her job as a journalist, she said, is to shine a light on the truth so the public and world leaders charged with making policy decisions can base their judgments of current events on fact.
She talked about the horrors endured by the Yezidi people at the hands of the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq, including a woman who had been taken as a sex slave and tied naked to a bed for three months straight.
“My job is to listen and learn and understand and try to paint those pictures so that here, thousands of miles away, when we say, ‘I don’t want to get involved in that,’” viewers are confronted with exactly what “not getting involved” means, she said.
Explaining the events that have led up to and now perpetuate the actions of ISIS in the Middle East is crucial too, she said, because in the digital age, ISIS is not bound by any borders.
“These things have a direct impact on us here at home, and they matter,” Logan said. “Without any of this (coverage), we can’t even begin to try and make decisions that count.”
After Logan was sexually assaulted by a mob in Cairo’s Tehrir Square during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, she came out publicly and shared her story on “60 Minutes,” working to break the silence that often surrounds sexual violence suffered by members of the media abroad.
While she didn’t talk about the assault during the presentation, she spoke at length beforehand about what it says of the risks facing reporters today.
Journalists are no longer seen as independent observers, but as propaganda tools for terrorists to exploit or as threats to authoritarian governments, she said.
“This is, in our lifetimes, probably the most dangerous time of all for journalists,” Logan said. “Now, you’re a target, and you’re actually a very powerful target. There’s people with a lot invested in getting rid of you in one way or another.”
Her assault could have served as a deterrent for female journalists who might want to work abroad, she said, but she won’t give it that power.
“I’ve never considered quitting,” she said.