By: Nu Yang
A group of international journalists has come together to form an initiative called A Day Without News? — a grassroots campaign whose goal is to see the successful prosecution of war crimes committed against journalists, and to increase public awareness and support from within the media community. Coined by Vanity Fair creative development editor David Friend, A Day Without News? poses a question: What would the world look like if it became too dangerous for journalists to do their jobs?
“There would be no coverage of events, and the world at large would not benefit from vital information gathering atrocities, and events could go unreported,” said Aidan Sullivan, a key supporter and campaign organizer. Sullivan is vice president of photo assignment with Getty Images, U.K.
The campaign launched Feb. 22, the one-year anniversary of the deaths of correspondent Marie Colvin and photojournalist Rémi Ochlik in Syria. According to Sullivan, the launch was seen by an audience of 121 million people due to television and social media coverage.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a partner in the initiative, reports that since 1992, 978 journalists have been killed worldwide. In addition to CPJ, A Day Without News? has partnered with Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and other organizations to bring these issues to light. The United Nations has pledged its support for the campaign through a video, calling for the safety of journalists everywhere.
Anyone can join the campaign by visiting adaywithoutnews.com and pledging their support online. The campaign has also targeted social media with designated Twitter hashtags and tweets to help spread the campaign virally.
Over the next 12 months, organizers plan to meet with multiple governments to push policy and diplomacy in order to fight against impunity. The group also wants to partner with educational institutions to identify, investigate, and ultimately prosecute cases in which journalists and media personnel have been targeted and killed.
“We would like to continue to raise awareness, to see an end to impunity, a more robust U.N. resolution that would give more protection to journalists working in areas of conflict, and ultimately the prosecution of those guilty of murdering our friends and colleagues,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said when a journalist’s life is in danger, he wants “the perpetrators (to) think twice about harming them, because it would be widely known and accepted that it would be a war crime to do so, and that those responsible would be held to account for their actions.