Media pressed to help cut journalist deaths

Pinder: Journalists continue to die

The British media has been urged to back the work of the International News Safety Institute not just for its own staff but to support endangered journalists across the world.

INSI director Rodney Pinder, speaking at a Chartered Institute of Journalists reception at the Tower of London, referred to the high casualty rate among media staff in the past decade. “Some 1,300 journalists and vital support workers have been killed in warfare and other violence in the past 10 years,” said Pinder.

He warned that the conflict in Iraq was proving to be one of the bloodiest for the news media – so far a total of 45 staff have been killed.

INSI was established by journalists and news organisations a year ago because of concern at the rising death toll among the news media reporting on conflicts in their home countries and abroad.

It aims to cut deaths among news staff by providing training, advice and information.

Pinder claimed that in its first year INSI had already made an impact: “We are young but we are willing and active,” he said. “Let your news media know that they have a support network in INSI. They can join not only for their own benefit but to support their endangered colleagues around the world.”

INSI is supported by all the major broadcasters in the UK and The Guardian.

Pinder said conflict reporting could never be safe but it could be safer. He told how a young Japanese journalist arriving in Baghdad had politely asked a fellow correspondent what a flak jacket was and what purpose it served.

He added: “Brave journalists continue to die in their home countries, the victims of the state or other criminal elements. It is, after all, the most effective form of censorship.

“The casualties suffered by brave journalists trying to do their jobs in so many countries belies the image in the West of the gutter press only devoted to discovering the dark secrets of the rich and fleetingly famous.”

He continued: “There is no greater threat to world press freedom as a support pillar to free societies everywhere, than violence committed against journalists.

“UNESCO has expressed great concern at the mounting death toll and called on governments everywhere to end what they call a culture of impunity which enables killers of journalists to escape without retribution.”

Summing up the problem, Pinder said: “Ninety per cent of journalists killed in the past 10 years were victims in their own countries and in 94 per cent of them no one was brought to account.

“It is twice as risky being a burglar in London than a killer of journalists in other countries.”

 More information about INSI is available on its website at: www.newssafety.com.

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