Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Shooting the messenger: The effects of violence against journalists in Iraq

According to the media group Reporters without Borders 203 journalists have been killed in Iraq (cartoon of targeted journalists on left). More disturbing is the fact that reporters are being targeted by terrorists and armed factions in Iraq. This has made news gathering in the country nearly impossible for foreign journalists and just as dangerous for Iraqi journalists. As the ability to report becomes hindered, journalists must rely on the scripted teleconferences given by US generals or the rhetoric spewed over the internet by Islamic extremists. Reporters cannot gather raw information on their own to tell audiences exactly how they are observing the situation. I searched blogs to see how journalists are dealing with the violence in Iraq and what they feel about gathering news in Iraq. The first blog I commented on was MediaChannel.org- a media watchdog blog- which posted an article about journalists in Iraq being trained to protect themselves, and possibly carry firearms. The second blog I commented on was written by Richard Engel, the Middle East bureau chief for MSNBC, which he posted on the network’s Web site. The article was written just after the deaths of two members of network’s camera crew in Iraq. Engel is reflecting on why there is so much violence against journalists and if the media should continue to report in Iraq. Below are the comments I contributed.

"Survival Skills for Reporters"


The article brings up the complex issue of journalists carrying firearms. I can clearly understand the need for journalists to protect themselves in a war zone, especially one in which they are targeted. However there are more risks facing journalists if they do carry firearms.
I was a Marine infantryman serving in Iraq. Training and common sense told us to arrest anyone we found concealing a weapon bec
ause they could be a potential enemy. The insurgents are no different. Journalists in Iraq must cross check-points set up by soldiers fighting on all sides of the conflict. At many of these checkpoints journalists will be searched. Without weapons there is good a chance that the combatants will be convinced the journalist is who he or she says they are. But upon finding a weapon that journalist will no longer be trusted and it is more likely they’ll be arrested or executed. Carrying a weapon in a war zone destroys any question of journalistic neutrality, making an attack against journalists more certain than if they had not carried a gun (memorial for killed journalists at right).

Other members of the media are echoing the same concerns. Jean-Francois Julliard, from Reporters Without Borders, mentioned in an article for Radio Free Europe that security guards working with CNN exchanged fire with insurgents. Julliard said these types of incidents would “expose the press to more violence.”
Rodney Pinder of the International News Safety Institute told The Guardian that the press is being targeted for violence because they have lost their status as neutral observers.
I agree. If journalists begin carrying firearms in Iraq they will cease to be journalists and become another armed camp running around Iraq fueling the violence to protect its own interests.

"Is Iraqi Reporting Still Possible"


You make a good point in connecting technology with the increased deaths of journalists. I believe you are correct in saying that the insurgents or terrorists no longer need journalists to get their message across for them. With a camera phone and a laptop literally anyone can be their own production studio. Journalists make better victims than communicators now that the insurgents can broadcast their own message. Reporters are easy “soft” targets for the insurgents to kidnap or execute as a way to gain political leverage. It is not surprising that more and more are captured and killed. (ABC journalists killed on left)
Keeping jo
urnalists from reporting in Iraq has grave consequences for people who care about the outcome of this war. It would be a tremendous loss because information would freeze. Not only that but it would raise the volume on the voices of extremism since they would be the ones controlling the airwaves. With journalists out of the picture in Iraq the controllers of information would either be the insurgents or the Pentagon, neither one an impartial participant in the outcome of the war. News would be skewed to fit a viewpoint even more so than what pundits are already accusing the media is doing.

1 comment:

CAO said...

I believe that this post is perfect for your major and interest. This issue really can a direct effect on you. I also commend you on a great job on linking the images to their original site, allowing the readers to obtain even more information on your researched topic.
There are a few missing elements I found while reading your post. In the first sentence, you may want to add a comma after "Reporters without Borders 203". I believe this will make the introductory sentence flower much nicer. Also, I did not find a reason why you linked the term "journalist" within your first paragraph. I followed the link and felt that the site didn't give me further information based on the linked word.
As far as the look of your post goes, you may want to bring the text up evenly with your first images. This, I believe, will enhance the overall look of your blog. There is also some odd spacing between the first and second paragraph of your first comment. Notice how there is an extra space between your paragraphs, whereas this one is missing that space.
In the first paragraph, I may have found a typo in the phrase "the rhetoric spewed over the internet my Islamic extremists." I believe you wanted to use the word "by" instead of "my" if I'm not mistaken.
I thought it was quite intriguing how you took such a strong stance against journalists carrying weaponry in the middle east, as it will further target them and could lead them to death. Furthermore, you brought in external information to further prove your point, which I thought was an excellent idea.
Your second comment however, deemed weaker than the first. Was there anything within the article you read that you disagreed with?
Overall, very informative and fitting for your blog.

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