Gary Pruitt, president and CEO of the Associated Press, wants to make changes to international laws in order to better protect reporters. During a speech at Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Pruitt said anyone who kills or takes a journalist hostage should be charged with a war crime.
“Wearing ‘Press’ on your jacket once offered some degree of protection for journalists in the most dangerous areas,” said Pruitt. “Today, it more often makes them a target.”
Pruitt noted the horrible trend among extremist groups of using brutality as a way to get noticed. “Now, most perniciously, we find ourselves in the sickening situation where terrorists are killing journalists not to stop a story — but to create one,” he said.
Pruitt admitted that changing laws won’t necessarily cause extremists to alter their behavior. However, amending the laws now could lead to an improvement over the longterm.
“When independent media cannot provide eyewitness original reporting, freedom suffers,” said Pruitt. “A free press is the most powerful bulwark against tyranny. We must never forget that.”