April 27, 2015

Committee to Project Journalists | The New York Times

Conflict reporting, which has long been a dangerous enterprise, has gotten more hazardous in recent years, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour said in the foreward for a just-released report from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The committee’s annual report, which this year touches on subjects including freelancer safety, outlines a legal and political climate worldwide that’s increasingly inimical to press freedom.

In her foreward, Amanpour describes several factors that contribute to the growing danger for journalists, including social media’s power to amplify the impact of political killings of journalists.

From cybersecurity to physical safety, the challenges facing journalists today are more complex than ever, and they come from familiar hot spots such as the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America as well as from comparatively stable countries in Europe, Asia, and North America.

The report comprises a series of articles that describe a variety of adversarial conditions that journalists are struggling to overcome:

  • Changing conflict reporting rules: Janine di Giovanni, the Middle East editor of Newsweek, recounts the death of Marie Colvin, who was killed in a rocket attack. Colvin’s death, she writes, was emblematic of an increasingly dangerous reporting climate outside the United States:

    The reporting community mourned Colvin and went on reporting the war, but it was clear that something had changed. As with the death of another legendary reporter, Reuters’ Kurt Schork in Sierra Leone in June 2000 (killed by Revolutionary United Front rebels), it seemed that if such a highly skilled journalist could die, anyone could. It was no longer only a question of being experienced, prepared, and brave.

  • Social media as a megaphone for violence: CPJ’s Joel Simon and Samantha Libby discuss how the rise of social media has affected the evolution of social media strategies for dangerous groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have empowered those groups to chronicle their own heinous acts:

    The ISIS leadership was unmoved and continued not only to engage in extraordinarily brutal acts but to document them.

  • Surveillance’s impact on reporting: Tom Lowenthal, an operational security expert, summarizes the increasing scrutiny that journalists find themselves subjected to as they go about gathering news. Concerns over the security of cellphones, emails and call records have forced journalists to fashion different ways to ensure sensitive conversations remain private.

    With this new technology, journalists don’t have to make a mistake to be compromised. Gone are the phishing days of opening a malicious attachment or clicking a suspicious link. There’s no trap to notice and avoid. Just browsing the Web puts one at risk, and avoiding online video is an impractical ask of a journalist conducting research.

  • Here’s the full report.

    Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Janine di Giovanni as a male. She is female.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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