Missing reporter: ‘Coming here to Syria is the greatest thing I’ve ever done’

McClatchy Newspapers | Associated Press | KUHF | LinkedIn | The Washington Post

In late July freelance reporter Austin Tice posted a message to his Facebook page explaining "why I'm doing this crazy thing." He was in Syria, covering the war there for McClatchy, The Washington Post and other outlets and said being there was "the greatest thing I've ever done."

We kill ourselves every day with McDonald's and alcohol and a thousand other drugs, but we've lost the sense that there actually are things out there worth dying for. ... So that's why I came here to Syria, and it's why I like being here now, right now, right in the middle of a brutal and still uncertain civil war. Every person in this country fighting for their freedom wakes up every day and goes to sleep every night with the knowledge that death could visit them at any moment. They accept that reality as the price of freedom.

Tice's family last heard from him on Aug. 12, right before he was supposed to leave Damascus. "It's not uncommon for various journalists moving in and about Syria to be out of communication," Tice's father, Marc, told the Associated Press' Terry Wallace. "We're very hopeful that that is what is happening."

KUHF reporter Ed Mayberry published an interview with Tice on Aug. 13. Tice told Mayberry the first thing everyone asks him is whether he's with the CIA.

Even after I've hung out with people for a few days, they tend to still just kind of assume that I work for the CIA. They wish that I worked for the CIA, right? Because everyone here wishes that America was more involved.

Tice told Mayberry he had to be careful about showing the faces of people he was reporting on because "the Syrian government is notorious for exerting pressure on people by going after their families in really quite violent and atrocious ways."

On his LinkedIn Page, Tice wrote he'd had "some decent professional success" as a freelancer but "would prefer to work for one organization."

I can write, film, snap and speak, so if your organization is looking for an all-in-one crisis correspondent willing to get the stories others won't, call me.

I speak passable Spanish and I'm slowly getting there with Arabic. I'm not so great behind a desk.

Syria is dangerous for journalists, too, Ernesto Londoño writes in The Washington Post:

Ten professional journalists have been killed in Syria since the revolt began, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At least 10 Syrian citizen journalists have also been killed, according to the organization’s tally.

The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said the organization is still seeking information on two journalists for the Arabic-language satellite network al-Hurra TV, reporter Bashar Fahmi and his Turkish cameraman, Cuneyt Unal. The pair went missing Monday. “It is thought they are being held by the security forces or a pro-government group,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. The group says at least 30 Syrian journalists and citizen journalists are being detained.

Related: Houston Chronicle runs story about Tice atop its front page

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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