Why Gawker honored news blackout for James Foley but not Richard Engel


Gawker reporter Adrian Chen found out in December that journalist James Foley was missing in Syria but didn't report on his disappearance "at the request of Foley's family and the GlobalPost," he writes.

Gawker reported NBC correspondent Richard Engel was missing in Syria because, reporter John Cook wrote, "No one told me anything that indicated a specific, or even general, threat to Engel's safety."

"Engel's disappearance had already been widely reported in Turkish media and on Twitter when we reported it," Chen writes, "rendering any 'blackout' pointless. But in Foley's case the blackout was in full effect and I personally didn't feel comfortable breaking it, especially after speaking with Foley's mother."

Chen raises an interesting point in his report about Foley:

A source I spoke to within the community of foreign journalists at the border of Turkey and Syria mentioned that Foley had been kidnapped weeks earlier. He was upset that the news of Foley's kidnapping had been blacked out, reasoning that if it was public knowledge perhaps Engel and his team wouldn't have risked venturing into the same area to be kidnapped themselves.

I've asked NBC for comment on that last point.

Related: NBC’s Richard Engel, crew freed after 5 days of captivity in Syria | How NBC News Kept Richard Engel's Disappearance Secret (BuzzFeed) | NBC’s Richard Engel: ‘We weren’t expecting a rescue’

  • 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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