Reuters-led Pentagon talks progress

Newsgathering organisations have made headway in negotiations with the Pentagon to provide a framework to ensure the safety of journalists reporting in Iraq. They have forged plans for a “safety working group” to implement recommendations.

Progress followed a meeting between news organisations and the US Defense department in Washington. The meeting was called by Reuters in April after the Pentagon released its report into the death of cameraman Mazen Dana at the hands of US soldiers.

The news organisations will establish a smaller working group to ensure the suggestions are executed. Members are yet to be appointed to the panel.

Delegates at the Pentagon included Reuters editor-in-chief Geert Linnebank and David Schlesinger, global managing editor and head of editorial operations; Mark Damazer, deputy director of BBC News; Eason Jordan, chief news executive at CNN; Guy Dinmore, the Financial Times’ Middle East correspondent; Rodney Pinder, director of the International News Safety Institute; and senior figures from the US military.

Schlesinger said: “The tragic shooting of the BBC journalists shows again how dangerous war reporting is. Our job as editors is to make things as safe as possible.

That includes training and protective gear for our staff. It also includes engaging with combatants where appropriate. We thought it imperative to engage with the Pentagon because US soldiers have been involved in terrible incidents, including two where Reuters journalists were killed by US fire.”

A Reuters spokeswoman said there was a “fairly frank exchange” on how the US military was contributing in part to the increasing dangers that journalists face.

By Wale Azeez

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