'Don't risk your lives for a picture or story'

Di Giovanni: "need to take risks"

Mirror editor Piers Morgan has banned heroics. "I’ve made it very clear to all my journalists covering Afghanistan that their safety is paramount. I don’t want heroics, anybody chasing that extra picture or brilliant piece of reportage if they are risking their lives.

"I have said that we want to be absolutely aware of any situation they think is remotely risky. They are under strict instructions not to do anything without prior consultation."

Morgan said the deaths of seven journalists in Afghanistan had "concentrated people’s minds that this has turned into an extremely dangerous environment for journalists".

Mirror reporter Charlie Bain opened his Jalalabad hotel door to be confronted by a man who slammed a Kalashnikov into his chest and tried to rob him. Happily, Bain survived.

Graham Paterson, chief of the Times war desk, said: "We are not sending people along the Jalalabad-Kabul road at the moment. We are urging extreme caution on them all. But it is difficult to prepare yourself for something like this. It brings home how utterly frightening the whole thing is.

"Many people have come up that road, including two of our people, Janine di Giovanni and Steve Farrell, and have been all right. They went up in convoys with other people. Those who died were fantastically unlucky."

Di Giovanni wrote after her journey: "The reality is that when you are covering a war, it is necessary to take certain risks. Still, your heart sinks every time you do it."

Alec Russell, foreign editor of The Daily Telegraph, said he was relying on the experience of his correspondents and has told them if they decide they do not want to leave their positions  on a particular day "it will be fine by us and we are not looking for the first exclusive from Kandahar. I don’t think that will stop them wanting to get the best stories." He fears Afghanistan may become "almost too dangerous to cover", like Chechnya.

Daily Mail reporter Peter Allen and photographer Brian Bould were in the same convoy as the dead journalists but turning off to visit a military base may have saved their lives.

By Jean Morgan

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