Posted by: Erika Owen
We’ve all heard about (and seen) Anderson Cooper’s recent Egyptian incident ending in a few bruises, a nice midday sprint from people threatening his life, and some Flip video coverage—luckily, the bruises were the extent of the damage. As journalists, our job is to get out there and find news to share with the masses. Getting all of the hard-earned information written down should be the least of our problems.
Besides Cooper’s interaction with dangerous journalism, there have been hundreds of other incidents ending with much more serious consequences. Here are just three that all ended the same way.
Daniel Pearl—Pakistan. Kidnapped and beheaded, this Wall Street Journal reporter was the victim of a terrorist act by Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. Pearl, 38, was on his way to an interview when a group calling itself The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty abducted him. On Feb. 1, 2002, Pearl was beheaded. Twenty days later, a video showing the beheading, and a list of demands (that were not met, resulting in Pearl’s death) was released. These demands ranged from releasing prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, the end of the United State’s presence in Iraq, the return of Pakistani prisoners to Pakistan and the delivery of a group of F-16 planes Pakistan had paid for and never received.
Dickson Ssentongo—Uganda. You don’t have to be an American journalist to be in danger. Ssentongo was a news anchor involved with local politics. It is believed that this was the motive behind his death. This is a much more recent incident, occurring in September 2010. Ssentongo was followed and beaten with iron bars until dead on his way to work around 5 a.m. on a Wednesday.
Abdulmalik Akhmedilov—Russia. Deputy editor of a Makhachkala-based newspaper named Hakikat and chief editor of a local political monthly, Akhmedilov, 32, was assassinated outside of Makhachkala on Aug. 11, 2009. A colleague of Akhmedilov, informed the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that Akhmedilov had openly criticized federal and local officials for political and religious suppression. Did we sign a contract washing our beliefs and passions away when we became journalists? Apparently Akhmedilov did.
According to The Guardian, as of Dec. 30, 2010, 57 journalists had been killed world-wide. It also found Pakistan to be the deadliest country for journalists. What would you do if you were asked to complete an assignment in Pakistan, or another dangerous country? Do you think it’s worth risking your life over? What kinds of precautions are there that journalists can take against attack? Is there something that their country’s government should be doing to protect them?