Friday, August 31, 2007

Inside Iraq: Dangerous Journalism

On today's Inside Iraq program on Al Jazeera English, host Jasim Azzawi discusses the dangers and difficulties of reporting from Iraq. More than 150 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of the war in 2003. Many more have been kidnapped, threatened, or unsubtly pressured. Foreign television crews have become a favorite target for various sectarian factions, leaving the job of reporting largely to anonymous Iraqis brave enough to risk their lives to get the story out. Even in the relatively safe Kurdish north of Iraq, one journalist was been sent to prison for 30 years for publishing stories critical of government officials. Although he was eventually commuted and then pardoned, the unmistakable message is, report here at your own peril.

Today's guests are John Burns, outgoing Baghdad bureau chief for The New York Times; Ismael Zayer, editor of Al-Sabah Aljadeed (also Romanized as Assabah Aljadeed); and Joel Campagna, of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Mr. Burns himself was kidnapped by an armed sectarian group, although he was released after only 12 hours of captivity. Mr. Zayer, whose newspaper is based in Irbil, told of rocket and mortar attacks against the headquarters of his publication, resulting in the deaths of several employees.

Between government pressures, Shia militias, Sunni armed groups, and the general level of violence in a war zone, reporting from Iraq is incredibly dangerous. We owe a debt of gratitude to all the courageous men and women who put their lives — and in many cases, their families' lives — on the line in order to get the truth out to the world. Inside Iraq will re-air at 23:30 Friday; 04:30, 09:30, and 20:30 Saturday; and 01:30, 06:00, and 13:30 Sunday. All times are GMT; for other time zones, check the Al Jazeera English schedule page. [note: the pull-down menu for time zones is more reliable than the map]

Technorati tags: , , , , , ,

Click below for more...