Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008

Dith Pran, 1942-2008

For every international headline, there's often a local "fixer" who helps make that coverage possible. No one exemplified the commitment of these overlooked heroes better than Cambodian journalist Dith Pran. During the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975 to the Khmer Rouge, Dith worked as an assistant to New York Times correspondent Sydney Schanberg. When Schanberg arranged for Dith's family to be evacuated, Dith chose to stay behind to cover the Khmer Rouge. After four years in a hard-labor camp, Dith escaped to a refugee camp in Thailand, where Schanberg flew in for an emotional reunion. Their story of a friendship that endured as Pol Pot laid waste a nation and people became the Oscar-winning film The Killing Fields. The world knows Cambodia's story because of Dith's unbreakable will to tell it.

by Ling Woo Liu