Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Caging journalism to protect it

May 3 was World Press Freedom Day. It slipped by me until this morning, when I saw this post at digital deliverance, a site that monitors new media. My year away from my newsroom included the chance to meet many international journalists.
Last night I met Omar, 28, a staffer for the Washington Post in Baghdad, now getting formal journalism at UC Berkeley's j-school, paid for by the Washington Post. Because he gathered news for the Post in the war zone, and because his name was at the bottom of stories he contributed to, his safety is compromised. He is officially not here, but in another country, according to family and friends.

Two of the Knight Fellows I studied with this year have similar safety concerns when they return home. One, from the Caucasus, has had an office closed by the government while she was away. The other, covering the tribal areas of Pakistan near the Afghan border, has lost colleagues, and colleagues have lost fathers and brothers, as retaliation for their journalism in the hot zone.

Digital deliverance gives a round up of journalists who've paid the ultimate price in the past year for their work.
Last year, 49 journalists were killed in the Middle East, 27 in Asia, 5 in Africa, 4 in Europe and Central Asia, and 25 in the Americas. Worldwide, 134 journalists were in prison last year.
It's worth paying attention to; their commitment is inspiring, even sacred.