Apparent execution of journalist James Foley a terrible reminder of the risks freelancers take

News outlets are reporting today on the apparent death of American freelance journalist James Foley. Foley, who had been reporting on the Middle East for such outlets as Agence France-Presse and GlobalPost, was kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago. Yesterday, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants posted a video online that appears to show Foley’s execution.

In the video, ISIS also threatened to kill another American freelance journalist, Steven Sotloff, who disappeared in northern Syria in August of 2013.

The Washington Post published an article early this morning about the risks of conflict zone reporting and the types of journalists who often assume those risks.

“Their capture and Foley’s apparent execution raise fresh questions about how important conflicts across the globe are covered — and the dangers freelance journalists, eager for bylines, face to report them,” the article says.

As traditional media outlets struggle with decreasing budgets and shy away from sending staff reporters to dangerous areas, freelancers — enticed by the possibility of reporting on important stories for high-profile publications — are increasingly stepping in to fill the gap. Without the backing of any employer, these people quite often cannot afford insurance, guides or translators, leaving them extremely vulnerable in some of the world’s most dangerous places.

“Journalists are taking big risks to report the news,” says Lise Lareau, vice-president of the Canadian Media Guild.

“And freelance journalists are especially vulnerable in risky situations because they often have no organization behind them and no safety net. We need to support each other and push the media organizations — who are clearly hungry for the reporting — to take greater responsibility for protecting freelancers.”


Posted on August 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm by editor · · Tagged with: ,

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