Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Message to Journalists Covering the Jihad: This Ain't Your Daddy's Viet Cong

An excellent question, posed and answered today in the pages of the Telegraph:
08.48 Why do journalists [like Daniel Pearl and James Foley] put themselves in danger?  
One question asked when a journalist dies in the course of reporting from a warzone is, why do they put themselves in such danger? Especially in an age in which social media gives militants the ability to reach audiences directly. My colleague Colin Freeman was captured himself in Somalia in 2008. He writes this morning about the reasons journalists put themselves in harms way.  
In the old days, there used to be a certain symbiosis between journalists and guerrilla groups: as the only people who could broadcast their grievances to the wider world, we had a certain value as witnesses, which also afforded a certain degree of protection. Today, by contrast, when groups like the Islamic State and al-Shabaab have their own Twitter feeds and full-time media wings, no journalist who falls into their hands can expect much traction by offering to "tell their side of the story".
I'm afraid there's more to it than that. The Pearls and Foleys of the world believe--foolishly and fatally--that their own innate goodness and empathetic feelings for the "other" will protect them, no matter how bloodthirsty and barbaric the "other" is.

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