British reporters freed after kidnapping in Syria

Today’s MediaWireWorld roundup of journalism news from outside the U.S. Send tips to Kristen Hare: khare@poynter.org

Syria

Undated photo of Anthony Loyd (The Times of London via AP)

Two journalists with The Times of London were kidnapped and beaten in Syria, and one was shot, Joshua Hersh reported Thursday in The World Post.

Reporter Anthony Loyd and photographer Jack Hill work for The Times of London newspaper. They were returning from a multi-day visit to Aleppo, the northern Syrian city that has faced intense bombardment from government aircraft, when their vehicle was rammed off the road a few miles from the safety of the Turkish border, the paper said.

Hill attempted an escape but was recaptured. Both journalists were badly beaten by their captors, and Loyd was shot twice in the leg. Their release was later negotiated by a more powerful alliance of rebel fighters, known as the Islamic Front.

Nigeria

Nigerian journalists are struggling to cover the kidnapping of 276 girls by a terrorist group, Edirin Oputu wrote Thursday in Columbia Journalism Review. “Nigeria’s leading newspaper relied on a foreign news outlet to report on the biggest story in the country.”

Ever since Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009, local news organizations have found it increasingly difficult to report on the group, hampered by dwindling resources, instability in the areas most affected by insurgents, and the terrorists’ own hostility to the press. Although Nigeria boasts hundreds of radio and television stations and nearly as many newspapers, local outlets are struggling with a media downturn. “There’s a revenue crisis in the media generally in the country today,” said Dapo Olorunyomi, editor in chief of investigative news site Premium Times. “Most [organizations] can’t even keep paying salaries. Most of them can’t even maintain offices.”

Egypt

A video shot before he was moved to an unknown location shows Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy, Al Jazeera reported Thursday. Elshamy has been on a hunger strike for 114 days.

In the video which was filmed a week before he was moved, Elshamy reiterated that he was jailed for merely doing his job, saying: “I’m Al Jazeera Arabic’s news reporter. I have been detained since August 14 in Cairo while I was covering the dispersal of Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in. I was doing my job as a reporter and despite the authorities knowing this, I have been detained for 266 days without any charge and without committing any crime.”

China

On Wednesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported the arrest of a contributor to Boxun News, an online English news site, “accusing him of fabricating stories that harmed China’s image, according to news reports.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Xiang Nanfu’s arrest, which is the latest in a wave of detention of dissidents, including lawyers, professors, and journalists, in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square.

Xiang was shown on state TV on Tuesday, “confessing” to making up facts in his stories, the latest in a series of such appearances.

Argentina

In Argentina, newspaper editor Juan Pablo Suárez was arrested in December for covering police demonstrations, Reporters Without Borders reported Wednesday. He spent 10 days in detention.

Suárez is still being investigated and it turns out that he is being charged with “inciting collective violence” and “terrorizing the population” under an anti-terrorism law that carries a possible 12-year jail sentence.

Turkey

Most Turkish newspapers (via Newseum) devoted the front page to the mining disaster that has killed more than 280. About 120 people are still missing, according to CNN. This front comes from Daily Sabah in Istanbul.

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