Viner, a radiant 43, with a warm smile and long dark-blonde hair, grew up in a small Yorkshire market town with teachers for parents and an obsession with The Smiths that was requisite for any bookish Brit worth their salt in the ‘80s. (She told me her biggest life regret was passing up an opportunity at age 16 to be an extra in the music video for “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” because she had a German exam that day; she made up for it by contributing to fanzines about the legendary Manchester quartet.)
Some readers might question the sanity of anyone who would place themselves within arms reach of a horrific disease—unless they were one of the selfless few whose mission is either to treat people affected by it or help contain its spread.
But journalists, as with soldiers, humanitarians and first responders, are often the ones running into a danger zone instead of away from it, whether that’s the frontline of a war or a small town teeming with highly infectious pathogens.
The latest Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 1,000 people in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria, while sickening hundreds more, is no exception.
Various western news outlets have put boots on the ground in the epicenter, where there’s a delicate, potentially fatal balance between staying healthy and bearing witness to an unprecedented epidemic that has alarmed and captivated the international community.