Monday, June 12, 2006

Stand up for Iraqi journalists

Never has it been more dangerous to be a journalist in a war zone than now in Iraq. It was something of a bizarre idea, well more a sinister idea, to "embed" the journalists with the invading forces. We all knew that. There is no way they can retain their required detachment and objectivity when they are chummed up as part of the military machinery. It was a PR job. For the government, not the journalists. What it achieved for foreign journalists was to remove their image as objective correspondents and identify them as part of the invading force, the military machine. Embedding did a vast disservice to journalism.

Foreign journalists in Iraq continue to need "protection" when out in the field. And a lot of the war coverage has been done from highly restricted spaces with lots of rules - i.e. don't stay in the same place for more than a few minutes.
Looking at the statistics of 129 media people killed in the course of this war, one can only think that even these ground rules are not enough.

Iraqi journalists would seem to have the cultural advantage in the war zone - but it works against them. They are identifiable targets. They know they are targets. Thus are they brave souls indeed and true professionals. For which they have paid a high price.
Of the media dead, at least 100 were Iraqis. Some died most terrible deaths at the hands of torturers.

The International Federation of Journalists has called Iraq "the deadliest media war in history" and is rallying journalists and media unions around the world to stand up, particularly for Iraqi media, to move for safety training for them and for safety clothing for them, to help support the families left behind and to make June 15 a Global Day of Solidarity with Journalists in Iraq.

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