Without them, we would be in the dark — uninformed and helpless to make sense of the world.

Journalists — correspondents, photographers, videographers, bloggers, citizen journalists and professional reporters — put their lives on the line each day to bring us news from faraway, dangerous places, including Ebola-infected West Africa.


Now an American freelance television cameraman working for NBC News in Liberia has tested positive for the Ebola virus. According to the network, he will return to the United States for treatment. The correspondent, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, reportedly does not have symptoms but she and her colleagues will come home. They will likely be under quarantine.

The diagnosis of the cameraman, whom the network said came down with symptoms that included aches and fatigue, is believed to mark the first time an American journalist has been infected with the deadly virus since the current outbreak in West Africa.

It is easy to lose sight of how dangerous and deadly the job of reporting remains. We rely on photographs and video and stories from the field to document disease and war. In 2014, 40 journalists died doing their job, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. In Syria, two journalists, Steven Sotloff and James Foley, were beheaded by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for all the world to witness. Many journalists remain missing throughout the Middle East and the world.

Journalists take risks to report news because of a deep commitment to their profession. Often they leave family and friends for months on end to cover stories like Ebola that have global ramifications. In many ways, health reporters have become war reporters in a new hot zone.

We have to support independent media and the journalism profession. We need to keep training producers and reporters to challenge governments and to bring us analysis as well as warning of coming dangers. Medical reporters like Snyderman and her crew are critical to how we understand a virus that is moving with lightning speed across boundaries and into our lives.

Today, we salute all the reporters on the frontlines. Thank you for taking the chance to bring the world home to us.

Sonenshine is former under secretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs. She teaches at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.