How much would you risk to report the news?

By Courtney Fishman

warning sign

Warning Sign by Robert Couse-Baker, Flickr, Creative Commons

Would you risk your life for for your job? Photographer John Moore does.

I’ll be honest. I’ve never viewed journalism as a “dangerous” career path, but after reading a NY Times article about the precautions photographer John Moore takes to ensure safety while shooting photos of ebola patients, I’m beginning to reconsider this notion.

Ashaka Mukpo, an American journalist and NBC freelance cameraman, tested positive for Ebola on Thursday. Mukpo left Liberia yesterday evening, and arrived today at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Since August, two American Journalists, Scott Sotloff and James Folly,  have been beheaded by the terrorist organization ISIS.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 40 journalists have been killed in 2014 worldwide. Unsurprisingly, the deadliest country for journalists is Syria with 10 journalist deaths this year. Iraq is rated second with five deaths.

Freelance journalists and photographers play a crucial role in news-gathering, but there jobs are becoming increasingly more dangerous. Without the protection of security guards or safe living quarters, freelancers are taking on a risk that could cost them their life.

People want the news. It’s in our best interest to stay informed, but who’s looking  out for the best interest of these reporters?

Modern day media is filled with freelance opportunity, but would you risk your life in pursuit of a story? Maybe we need to start considering the security and safety of these individuals before pushing them onto a plane.

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8 responses to “How much would you risk to report the news?

  1. I agree with your viewpoint, especially as a magazine major, that I’ve never really seen journalism as a dangerous field. I think it’s easy for the public, and even us, as other types of journalists, to forget about those who risk their lives on a daily basis.

    Perhaps journalistic organizations should start pushing funds into some form of security for these journalists that they are pushing into life-endangering situations. What do you think? Is that even a viable option for most news organizations?

  2. Interesting point. I think that news organizations will eventually need to pay to support these individuals. If they want coverage of an issue that is attached to dangerous implications, these companies will have to provide freelancers with safety, or the financial means to do so, in order to make it worth a risk.

  3. This is a good point, Courtney. I’m not sure whether I agree or disagree with you. On one hand, I would like something to be done to help journalists, whether it’s beefing up security measures or paying them more for their troubles. Accountants don’t normally incur life-threatening dangers on the job (that I know of), so shouldn’t journalists get something extra because they do?
    On the other hand, sometimes I think this is something people will have to accept when they go into the journalism field. We know that we’re getting into a job that pays little and involves lots of stress–should danger be included in that list? If a reporter isn’t willing to take the risk of coming in contact with the Ebola virus, is that really a story they should be pursuing?

  4. You make an interesting argument. I agree with you that freelance journalists, and really anyone, reporting somewhere that is less than safe should bring some kind of security and protection with them. But in a war zone, is there really any protection journalists could have that has the capacity to save them if disaster were to strike? I don’t know yet if I would ever consider risking my life for a story, but I think that when these people went into areas of conflict they weren’t planning on never returning home, and that thought scares me too. Journalism isn’t very heavily connoted with danger, but when we’re receiving these images and stories of murdered journalists, we have to start changing how we think, and more importantly how we act, in response to the extent to which journalists should go for a story.

  5. This is something interesting to think about. I never even thought about the risks, and maybe it’s because I never imagined myself going on the front lines of war or sickness to get a story like that. I think it is important to get these stories out to the public so everyone can know what’s going on, but the risk is huge. I think I’d have to agree with the point Chance brought up. Though it wouldn’t be easy, or cheap, I think there should be some way to try to give some extra protection to journalists who go to these dangerous areas to report. I know that they sign up to do this work, but the extra security would make me feel better about sending these journalists overseas to report on the things that I am too afraid to report on myself.

  6. I never considered journalism scary or dangerous, because the field I want to go in doesn’t include going some place where my life could be put at stake. But when I think about the news I watch regarding the war, or massive illness in other countries, I realize that there is somebody there who is covering that news. Somebody has to hold that camera. Unprotected. These reporters are risking their lives to get this footage, and to cover these stories. They are dedicating their lives to the news, and they should have the right to be protected when doing so. Reporters on the front lines and in dangerous, life threatening situations should have body guards or security with them at all times. Or, if the situation is that bad, they just shouldn’t even go. There is no news in my opinion, that we need covered so badly that an innocent reporter should wind up kidnapped, sick, or dead over.

  7. I completely agree with you! Reporters who are informing us of what is going on the world are risking their lives to inform their country. These individuals need protection just as much as any other group going into these situations. To keep us informed we need to keep our resources alive and well!

  8. This is such a tricky subject. Freelance journalists aren’t going into dangerous territory against their will. It’s a story they want to write and a risk they are willing to take. However, it does seem as though the media who will be using their work should be offering some sort of protection. Another possibility is gathering funds for security like Chance mentioned. I have nothing but respect for the journalists who are willing to risk their life to tell a story and hopefully someday they will have the protection they need to make the job a bit safer.

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