Journalists at War
Here is an interesting question and answer session between Ann Cooper of the Committee to Protect Journalists and Broadcasting and Cable magazine.
While most of Cooper's points are on base she is dead wrong stating that journalists should not arm themselves when covering events in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Q. Geraldo Rivera took some heat a couple years ago when he said he carried a gun while covering the conflict in Afghanistan. What did you make of that?
Cooper: We tell journalists they should not ever carry guns. If they are traveling armed in a conflict zone, it blurs the perception of who they are. They’re there as neutral observers to see what’s going on and write about it for the rest of the world. They are not combatants and they shouldn’t do something that may make some people perceive them to be something other than an independent observer.
The problem with her statement is it only works when all sides in a conflict recognize journalists as being neutral. In Iraq and Afghanistan that is not true. The terrorists view journalists as political entities that they can use to their advantage when kidnapped or killed. The terrorists are trying to build a case that Iraq is ungovernable and so fully out of control that even reporters are killed, 61 so far I believe. The terrorists are trying to take advantage of the fact that many people in the world think a press badge is generally better protection then body armor. By proving this concept wrong the killers are attempting to scare us out of Iraq.
If a journalist feels uncomfortable travelling armed then they should not do so, but they should also not expect any level of protection unless they are moving about with U.S. or UK troops. If I were reporting from Iraq I would damn well make sure I was carrying something.