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Thu, Oct 30, 2014

BURRISS: Reporters need survival skills given political climate

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When my fellow professors and I talk to journalism students about job opportunities, we often mention the chance to travel to exotic lands and to experience first-hand events that readers and viewers are only going to see and read about.

But a report by the media watchdog group Committee to Protect Journalists indicates that perhaps, in addition to writing and editing, we should also be teaching survival skills.

In its report for 2013, the group says that 70 reporters were killed worldwide, two-thirds of who were covering politics. In addition, 211 journalists were jailed and 456 were forced into exile.  Since 1992, more than a thousand reporters have been killed.

Syria topped the list, with 28 journalists killed the last year.  

Unfortunately, reporters in Syria were double-teamed, as the President Bashar al-Assad regime imposed news blackouts, and opposition factions were progressively more intolerant of dissent.

Iraq saw 10 journalists killed, while six died in Egypt. Others were killed in India, Brazil and Turkey.

We should also note that most of the deaths were murders, not due to combat or inherently dangerous assignments.

Even when reporters are safe, however, there have still been numerous instances in which news people were prevented from doing their work. For example, reporters trying to cover elections have found their accreditations withheld, some were asked to leave the country, and others were threatened with reprisals for writing material critical of the government.

As the world shrinks and the global village comes closer and closer, it might be helpful to remember that many of the values we as Americans hold dear are alien to many throughout the rest of the world. And the ancient practice of killing the messenger for delivering bad news is still alive and well.

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Civil Rights, Journalism, Media Matters, Politics, Voices
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