Editing a Horror

[Warning: Disturbing Content]

Nov. 15 9:20 AM

One more day in London, then back to Iraq.

In Hyde Park a man was teaching his son how to ride a bike. He would hold onto the back seat with one hand and run behind the bike, then after a while let go. The kid would look back and stop after a little bit. It looked like a good thing to be doing on a sunny day in London.

Back in my hotel I had a report to edit. For inexperienced editors like me the toughest thing is to match proper audio to the pictures. I remember one report about a village in Belarus where a third of the place was HIV-positive. I had a picture of a nurse putting three test tubes in a rack one after the other. The line was "positive, positive, positive," but I could not match the pictures to the words so I kept having to do the edit over and over again, each time hearing myself say "positive, positive, positive." After a while an experienced cameraman-editor stood behind me and said "positive, positive, positive."

Today the audio was worse. The video was of a Russian soldier getting his head sawed off in Chechnya. I mentioned in the script that it took a minute. The bureau chief here asked me to time it out. In fact it took two minutes, five seconds. This detail made it worse. I changed the script. I could not use the video, but I could use the audio. I would use pictures of young French Muslims watching the tape. They were being recruited to fight against U.S. forces in Iraq.

The bureau chief asked about the audio — if it was a cry, as I had written in the script. I told him it was not a cry. It was a scream that turned into a gurgle when the blood got in his windpipe. A woman in the office made a sound.

I worked on the edit in my hotel room on a laptop computer in the afternoon. It was still sunny out. On the screen a young Russian soldier was being killed. To take the audio I had to see the video. I set an in-point on the edit where he began his scream, then set another point to lower the audio so you could hear the reporter's track.

I had to do this several times to get it right. At one point I covered most of my eyes with my left hand and hit the edit button with my right hand. I could see just a little piece of the screen and out loud I found myself saying, "Oh God I'm so sorry."

[ed. note: "Eurabia," a special four-part series on Muslims in Europe airs Thanksgiving week on the "FOX Report," 7 p.m. ET on FNC.]

E-mail Steve

My heart goes out to you because you have the honor to report the facts in the face of the horror. Thank you sir.

— Richard

I very much enjoy your candor in your reports. Don't know how you know where to be and when, but keep up the fine work.

— Jay


We watch, we wait, we listen, and you deliver. God bless, good luck, head low and stay safe.

— Kris (Chattanooga, TN)


I hope you never lose your capacity to feel the horror you have faced. It shows you have heart.

— Wanda (Indianapolis, IN)

I found your comments on editing the video of a beheading very personal and candid. Typically, I don't have much sympathy for the media as they stick a mic in someone's face and ask how they feel about a loved one's death. However, what must be a horrible experience for you (which I have avoided) is a job requirement for you.

Two of the guys in our office viewed the first video, and they both said they wished that they never had. These guys are hunters, and not afraid of the sight of blood. The look in their eyes when they urged me not to watch was enough to chill my blood.

I hope for a time when we don't have to view or think about this type of news ever again.

— David


Just wanted to write to you to say I think you are one of the best reporters working today. Not only for FOX, but for all the networks. You do a great job!!!

Today I read your article titled "Editing a Horror." I am a veteran of the first Gulf War, so I am familar with death and destruction, but this is beyond even what happens in battle.

— Darcy


Out of curiosity and a desire to know what was being done to these victims, I watched my first and, hopefully, only beheading on the Internet a couple months ago. The horror was unimaginable and unforgettable. It is haunting.

The words of your article capture the nauseating experience exactly. And reading it helped me know that someone else has experienced this horror with similar emotions to mine.

Thank you.

— Greg (Findlay, OH)

Dear Steve,

I am a regular FOX News junkie. I appreciate your reports from the field, but after reading this article on your reporting, my heart goes out to you.

Please do not let the horrors upon which you are reporting harden your heart. The service of letting the world know, even if many of them choose not to pay attention to the horrors we are fighting against, is important.

— Kathleen (Las Vegas, NV)

Your stories are riveting, gut wrenching, and yes, worth being told. Thank you for your service.

With gratitude,

Today, November 15, is the first day that I have ever read one of your reports. The link was posted on the FNC Report newsletter that I am a subscriber to. I don’t always click on every story every day that is posted in the newsletter. This one caught my eye, so I clicked on it to read what you had written. There are no words to express how I feel about what you wrote. I can only try and sympathize, as I am sure thousands will also, about how you must feel having to witness these atrocities, but I am sure I can never begin to understand….just as no one can ever fully understand what the human beings on the film you were editing went through.

— Aimee

Thank you for the clear, concise pictures you paint with words. A God-given gift.

— Christine (Houston, TX)

Dear Steve,

You provide important insight not usually seen in the mainstream media. Stories that flesh out the larger picture. Your last story on the unfortunate Russian soldier was gut wrenching. Not because of anything you described but because of your own reaction to viewing it. I'm sorry you had to see it. But the people of the world need to know what kind of people we are dealing with in this war. Thank you Steve for telling the truth.

— Ray (Chicago, IL).

God bless you for your conscience and its use. Sadly, it is a tool ever-diminishing, it seems; not only in the journalistic and the political, but the universal, as well.

— Craig (Anderson, IN)

No reporter grabs our attention more than you do. We watch FOX exclusively because we know we are getting the truth. When one of us is out of the room and you come on, the other yells, "Hurry, here's Steve." It's as if you are family. Somehow your stories make us feel part of what is going on. Please be careful.

— Jean and George

Thank you for everything you do. I don't see how you can do it.

— Jason (Tulsa, OK)

Dear Steve,

Each time I read your column I am shocked at the things you go through to bring us the real news of the world. I am sorry and saddened that things like this happen, but realize we all need to know in order to make it stop. Thank you for the difficult work you do and I am praying for you often.

— Helene (Maui, Hawaii)

Hey Steve,

I've admired your work from back here in DC. A reporter with guts. More than most I believe.

— Larry

Just read your piece on the edit for the murder on the young russian. How disturbing it is just to hear you describe it. Just so you know, it is a very important job you have and I thank you for doing it so well.

— Amanda


I just read your commentary on editing a horrific scene. Bless you for keeping your humanity and still being able to be touched.

— KC

Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.