By: Scott Charton, Associated Press Writer
(AP) Reporting on world events is increasingly “hard and dangerous” for journalists, former hostage Terry Anderson said a week after news that a Wall Street Journal reporter was killed by kidnappers in Pakistan.
Oppressive governments often relent under pressure when journalists “focus the light of publicity on them,” Anderson, the one-time chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, said Wednesday evening at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.
Anderson, who marked a decade of freedom in December after almost seven years as a hostage in Lebanon, is now vice chairman of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. The committee was founded in 1981 to monitor abuses against the media and promote press freedom around the world.
The slaying of Journal reporter Daniel Pearl this year was only the latest grim example of dangers faced by journalists. The committee reported that 37 journalists were killed worldwide last year, 118 were jailed and there were more than 600 attacks.
“The state of international journalism is in a crisis,” Anderson said. “Things are getting rough. Things are getting hard and dangerous in many places.
“Daniel Pearl was not a cowboy,” he said. “Most of the foreign correspondents I know are not cowboys. They’re not adrenalin junkies. … Daniel Pearl was a pro. He was doing things in the best way he knew how.”
Anderson was joined for the discussion by Javed Nazir, a Pakistani journalist whose newspaper was burned by a mob because it published a letter to the editor that some readers considered blasphemous.
Nazir said journalists overseas cannot count on police or government protection. Officers stood by when his publication was torched, he said. “They did not want to come between the mob and the newspaper,” he said.
Alex Lupis, a program director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the organization is working to help embattled journalists with legal aid, fellowships in the United States, and even aid for family expenses.
And, of course, generating publicity about cases: “Our basic leverage is making the governments look bad,” Lupis said.
On the Net, find the Committee to Protect Journalists at http://www.cpj.org.