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Love and War, from Two Journalists' Perspective

Journalist Santiago Lyon was impressed by the play's veracity. "There were times when it was like watching strangers act out parts of my own life."

Lyon was speaking as part of a panel discussion earlier this week at The Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University about the lives of war reporters.

In conjunction with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, the event was led by Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center, and featured Lyon and his wife Emma Daly, both reporters, who spoke candidly about what it is like to be in the action, reporting from the source.

Also part of the conversation was playwright Donald Margulies, whose new play, "Time Stands Still," delves into a similar theme: How a couple—one a photo journalist, the other a war correspondent—deals with returning home from a disastrous assignment. In particular, the play reveals how harrowing it can be to balance a high-intensity career and relationships.

Lay, who describes her experience during the war in Bosnia as her "formative journalistic experience," spoke about the difficulties of wartime reporting. "It's difficult to disassociate yourself from what's going on," she said. "It's very hard to maintain emotional distance from a situation."

Lyon also understands firsthand the perils of war.

Injured in Bosnia, he nonetheless made the decision to return to work. Even so, during his recovery, friends would try to convince him that this was a "lesson." But Lyon felt they didn't fully understand what he was going through. "I was furious at the notion that an injury like that was going to take me out of the game." 

Both Lay and Lyon believe that their work is important and feel that it is worth the fight because they are able to make people say, "Well, at least we can't say we didn't know."

Similar issues are at the forefront of Margulies' play. The main characters struggle with both physical and emotional traumas. Coping individually puts increasing pressure on their relationship.

Margulies said he had "no political agenda," but sought only to "get it right." Asking for help of journalist friends, he was able to use their insights to bring to bear a strong attention to detail. "I was very concerned that I was lapsing into assumptions, as opposed to revealing truths."

While challenging, Lay said that married couples in the same profession are able to understand each other and to be more open with one another. But in understanding the nature of her husband's work, Lay is happier knowing the "gory details" and would "find it hard" to be kept in the dark.

Asked about the real secret to a successful marriage of journalists, Lay said simply, "we crack a lot of jokes."

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