2006 March 24 Friday
Brave Iraqi Reporters In Iraq

In 3 years more reporters have died in Iraq than died in the entire period of the Vietnam War.

On Monday, the multinational group Reporters Without Borders said 86 journalists and news assistants have been killed in Iraq since U.S. forces crossed the border from Kuwait three years ago. By contrast, the group said, 63 journalists were killed in Vietnam during the 22-year period of the war there. (Related: Read the report)

The reporters in Vietnam took many fewer precautions. Baghdad is far more dangerous than Saigon was in the 60s. That's a real problem. The reporters can't go to places to talk to people to find out the real story in many cases.

Most of the killed reporters have been Iraqis and Western reporters rarely get killed. (PDF format)

The overwhelming majority were men (92 per cent). Seven women journalists have been killed since the start of the war. The average age of those killed was 35.5. The youngest (Ali Abrahim Aissa) was 21 and the oldest (Shinsuke Hashida) was 61.

Iraqis have been the worst hit. 77 per cent of the journalists and media assistants killed in Iraq in the past three years have been of Iraqi nationality. The proportion of Iraqis has risen. They represented 66 per cent of all the journalists killed until May 2005. The visiting foreign reporters to have died in Iraq were nearly all killed in the first days of the war, in March and April 2003. The most recent case was in August 2005, when American freelance writer Steven Vincent was killed in Basra. Since then, all the media professionals killed in Iraq have been of Iraqi nationality.

While 77% of the killed were Iraqs 11% were from other Arab countries, 8% from Europe, and only 5% from the United States.

The higher Iraqi reporter death rate is probably due to less money spent on keeping them alive.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, US and British journalists have not been the worst hit by this war. This has clearly been due to the radical security measures adopted by most of the US and British news media operating in Iraq. As the war progressed, these media have reinforced their security provisions even more.

Armoured vehicles, bodyguards and very few excursions. Journalists have had to adapt their work to these constraints. In the great majority of cases, the only contact with the local population is conducted by Iraqi employees. Large swathes of Iraqi territory are no longer covered by the foreign press.

The international news media would be unable to maintain a presence in Iraq if they did not make these concessions. There were very few privately-owned security companies in Baghdad in 2003 but now they are flourishing. At least 20 are currently operating in Iraq.

Western media rely heavily on Iraqi freelancers for reporting. Some complain that this slants the coverage. But given the splits within Iraqi society it is hard to say how the coverage gets slanted. Are most of the stringers Sunnis or Shias? Related to the old regime or the new regime or to militias?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 March 24 02:45 PM  Mideast Iraq


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