Sambrook to head committee on journalists' safety

Sambrook: committee chair

The BBC’s Richard Sambrook is to chair the international committee being set up to investigate the dangers facing journalists around the world and to recommend ways to protect them.

Sambrook, director of the BBC’s global news division, will head the committee, which will include representatives of media organisations, governments, non-government organisations and human rights campaigners.

It is being organised by the International News Safety Institute.

Sambrook, giving the annual Poliak Lecture at Columbia University in New York, said: “Journalists are now at risk to a greater extent than they have ever been before.

“Where once their neutrality was widely recognised and respected, today they are targeted and sought out, seen as high-profile representatives of their countries or cultures.

“Increased partisanship in our media may have played a part in that; there may be other factors too. But with 85 journalists or support staff killed in the last year, we, as an industry, cannot carry on and do nothing.

It is now one of the biggest inhibitions on freedom of reporting.”

In his speech, Sambrook, who is responsible for the BBC World News television channel, BBC World Service radio and the BBC’s international websites, called on broadcasters and publications to avoid patriotic reporting.

“Before Iraq, it seemed to me that some US news broadcasters wrapped themselves in the flag and, as a consequence, did not perform the role the public expects of them,” he said.

By Jon Slattery

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