Most journalists can agree that the profession has for years now been under financial attack by way of newsroom layoffs, the decline of newspapers/ad revenues and media consolidation, among other factors.
But now, both around the world and across the nation, journalists have been coming under increasing physical attack from a combination of hostile governments, overly militarized police forces and international terror organizations.
The brutal execution of U.S. journalist James Foley by members of the Al Qaeda splinter group, Islamic State in Syria is only the most recent and disheartening reminder of just how important—yet potentially dangerous, reporting the news can be.
Almost daily, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) keeps a running tally of reporters around the world who have been killed, harassed, intimidated or similarly prevented from simply doing their job: to report the news.
CPJ has noted that Syria, in particular, has been extremely dangerous for journalists. In addition to American journalist Marie Colvin, who was killed in 2012 while on assignment in Syria, CPJ estimates that “at least” 69 other journalists have died covering the current conflict between rebels and government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
And, just within the past week, CPJ has reported the following news items about attacks on journalists and news outlets:
- August 21—Two journalists abducted and two TV channels forced off the air in Libya
- August 20—Somali authorities detain three journalists and shutter radio station
- August 20—Radio station suspended in Venezuela
- August 20—NY Times correspondent ordered out of Afghanistan
- August 19—Television anchor gunned down in Honduras
- August 19—Yemeni journalist shot dead in series of attacks on state-run media
- August 19—Journalist feared abducted in the Maldives
- August 18—South Sudan closes radio station, arrests editor
And, right here in the U.S., journalists have been both harassed and arrested while trying to report on the current unrest in Ferguson, MO, ignited by the police killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
CPJ reported that nearly a dozen journalists have been detained and released without charge, in the past week, according to a CNN report. There have also been reports that some journalists have been threatened by police and hit with rubber bullets and tear gas while still other reporters claimed they have been intimidated by local residents.
CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney commented that, “Ferguson is an international story and journalists are going to cover it. They have a right to do so without fearing for their safety or liberty,” he said.
Mahoney added, “The harassment and detention of reporters must stop. From senior commanders on down, the word must go out to security forces to let journalists do their job.”
Are journalists, both here and abroad, at greater risk today than in years past? How can journalists be better protected on the job? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @10000Words.