Thursday, 8 March 2007

Shooting the messenger

There is counter on the International News Safety Institute website. Three days ago it rested at 20. On the 31 December 2006 the count had reached 138.

This is the number of journalists killed in war zones every year.

296 is the sum of deaths since January 2005, just over two years ago. I recently came across the obituary for Terry Lloyd one of ITN's most experienced correspondents who was killed after 20 years in Iraq on March 22 2003. When reading this I felt some deja vu for the response I had to the death of Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter. Surely we shouldn't be shocked if a person who has spent years playing Russian roulette gets a fatal hit.

Lloyd's death was described as tragic "one can be certain that he would not have entered into a foolhardy enterprise". He was killed in "friendly fire", shot under the guise of an oxymoronic phrase that has always been lost on me, by our own troops whose whole purpose is to restore peace to a nation. I am unable to define such a thing as an act of "foolhardy enterprise" when Lloyd's job description dictates danger.

The first ever comprehensive journalist safety survey says: "Two journalists killed every week over last 10 years".

News Safety Institute

7 comments:

Hayley said...

If these journalists killed were policemen or officers there deaths would have been splashed over every column inch available. So it seems to me tragic and unacceptable that people who put there lives truly in the firing line everyday as well go relatively unnoticed. They are trying to bring the truthful and unabridged accounts of what happens in places we are too out of reach to see. We should be thankful that these people put there lives on the line to show us a truer picture of the world. There lives and deaths should no longer be ignored.

Anonymous said...

isn't that ironic? journalists present the news to us and yet those statistics are shocking to me.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, war has rarely been fatality free with regards to civilians and press. Focusing on "friendly fire", although hard to accept, it will happen. Journalists who go to danger areas must expect there is a chance they could be injured or worse be killed. As much as i disagree with war in Iraq, troops in Iraq are under constant intense pressure, mistakes will be made however inexcusable they may seem. The question arises whether it is the fault of the governments fueling the war leading to journalists deaths or our own recent thirst for minute by minute recordings of events potentially putting them in danger?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Hayley that the statistics are shocking. I am learning a lot from this blog. Thank you.

Laura said...

When a soldier, who has by definition offered up their life for queen and country, dies in Iraq it is always splashed over the news; we see mourning friends and family condemning the war and hailing their fallen loved ones heroes. It seems strange, sad and somewhat ironic that the journalists who report on the war in Iraq do not get the same coverage. It may sound harsh but it is the military personnel who should be expecting to be killed, not the journalists who are out there just doing their jobs and bringing a far away situation closer to home.

Anonymous said...

It's true about there being more publicity if the deaths were police or army. I think it's time that these statistics were more broadly known. Somebody aught to make a TV prog about it.

Anonymous said...

John Simpson, much admired, of the BBC was injured in Northern Irag in a supposedly 'safe' area. It made the news but not a lot else even though he is the sort of TV journalist we rely on for accurate, up to the minute information from a dangerous area. Journalists don't want to get shot. They put themselves in the firing line because sometimes they HAVE to, to get their stories out. Very brave. In order do their jobs they have no choice. The crocodile guy who died, did.