Much attention was given to the recent killings of Steven Sotloff and James Foley by the hands of ISIS, and deservedly so. Their executions are a chilling reminder of the risks faced by journalists covering the world’s most dangerous places. But little has been written about the many other non-western journalists who have been kidnapped and killed by ISIS over the past year. In the past 10 months, the Guardian reports, as many as 17 Iraqi journalists have been executed by ISIS, sometimes in public beheadings.
Reporters Without Borders remains one of the best sources for information about the dangers to journalists working in ISIS territory and around the world. Here are some reports on killings of local journalists by ISIS militants over the past year:
UPDATE (25 Sept. 2014): The US Forest Service has extended the comment period and delayed the rules regarding photography permits amid growing public outcry.
Original post: The US Forest Service seems to have taken a page from so-called Ag-Gag laws around the country; rules will be finalized this November requiring reporters to apply and pay for a permit to shoot video or photos in designated federal wilderness areas. According to this OregonLive report, permits may cost up to $1,500, though, oddly, the penalty for taking photos without a permit will only go up to $1,000. The acting director of the US Forest Service told OregonLive that the policies, which have been “temporarily” in place for 4 years, are part of the organizations efforts to protect wilderness areas from being commercially exploited as designated under the Wilderness Act of 1964.
The International Business Times also has coverage of the proposed rules, including thoughts from NPPA general counsel Mickey Osterreicher. I join with Osterreicher and other free press advocates in thinking that these rules are a substantial restriction on constitutional rights and should be abandoned. While I can understand a need to regulate, for instance, large-scale film crews using federal land for Hollywood productions, it’s ridiculous to require journalists to apply and pay for permission to take pictures on wilderness land.
The Bureau of Land Management, some of whose land appears in my photograph above, does not require permits for photography.
Related: A Kitsap Sun reporter had odd restrictions placed on him while covering efforts to save a historic building in Olympic National Park. He was prevented from speaking to people involved in the story, held back from the scene, and otherwise hassled during what should have been a pretty straightforward and non-confrontational reporting assignment. You can read Tristan Baurick’s final piece on the effort here.
James Foley was my middle school teacher in a very poor neighborhood and all I want to say is thank you Mr. Foley you helped shape me into the man I am today….This man always preached being open and respectful to other cultures. It’s unfortunate that his openness lead to this.” -Reddit user wheelchaircharlie
I won’t link to the video (or watch it, myself), but thought it’d be worthwhile to link to some remembrances of James Foley and his reporting. I never knew him, but he was a friend and colleague of many of my friends. By all accounts, he was a great guy filled with kindness and a passion for sharing his knowledge and talents. He will be missed.
The video also reportedly shows another journalist held captive by ISIL. These images have informed the first public reports that reporter Steven Sotloff was being detained in Syria. It is worth noting that information about individuals who have been kidnapped is often held secret for their safety and in hopes of aiding negotiations for their release. This extends to journalists reporting about their colleagues who are in danger, with a reluctance to discuss, report or reveal information publicly.
Here are a few posts that we have been reading after news of Foley’s killing:
It’s also worth remembering the many other journalists, aid workers and contractors still missing around the world, and the many who have been killed this year. Men’s Journal has a good, short refresher about what they call “The Forgotten Hostage Crisis.” As always, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders remain essential reading for keeping up to date on this issue. The CPJ reports that 30 reporters and photographers have been killed so far in 2014.
There’s also a good discussion to be had about the ethics and effects of publishing images from militants’ propaganda videos. Many journalists, across our networks on Facebook and Twitter, have urged their colleagues to refrain from publishing any images of Foley’s execution contending that publishing images of this act only serves to perpetuate ISIS’ terror. Likewise, social media companies such as Facebook and Youtube have been actively working to block some images from the video from appearing on their networks. We should revisit this issue of visual representation and politics at a later date, along with other relevant discussions that we are having this week.
We wish peace and healing to Foley’s family and friends, and the families of the many other colleagues who have died in recent months, and to those still missing.
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