No news on missing New York Times journalists - including Briton Stephen Farrell

As the future of the Gaddafi regime hangs in the balance – Western media coverage is currently pretty uniformly behind the UN-backed action (see Greenslade on this and Stephen Glover) .

But that could change very quickly. And there would be no quicker way to alienate journalists than by allowing any harm to befall the four New York Times staffers who have been missing since last Tuesday, apparently held by the Gaddafi regime.

One of them is Stephen Farrell, a British reporter and videographer who previously worked for The Times.

The same goes for British AFP journalist Dave Clar, missing in Libya since Friday, British Al Jazeera cameraman Kamel Atalua – being held in Tripoli – and all other journalists who have fallen foul of the Libyan authorities apparently for trying to go beyond the strict reporting restrictions in force in Tripoli.

On Friday, the New York Times reported that the Libyan government has said the four would be released. Since then there has been no news.

Writing on the paper’s Lens blog, Farrell described the unique challenges reporters operating in Egypt during the recent demonstrations there faced. It’s an interesting insight into the challenges facing the modern multimedia journalist in a conflict situation – challenges which must have been even greater in Libya.


“Sometimes the hardest part of a story is getting there. Sometimes it is getting around. Sometimes it is obstructive intelligence agencies and soldiers. Sometimes it is lawlessness, sometimes overattentive law enforcement. Sometimes it is lack of transport, poor communications, power blackouts, accreditation difficulties or a hostile local population.

“Though my colleagues and I have worked in far more dangerous places and under far more primitive conditions, I don’t think I’veever before covered a story in which all the above-mentioned obstacles were present and taking turns on a daily – sometimes hourly – basis to become the principal barrier to getting the journalist in and the story out.”

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