Editors: No Problem (Again) Sitting On Kidnapped Reporter Story

By: Joe Strupp It was apparently pretty easy for the Christian Science Monitor not to report on the weekend kidnapping of New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell in Afghanistan.

That's because Monitor Managing Editor Marshal Ingwerson didn't know about it. "We did not know until he was released," Ingwerson says of Farrell, who was rescued early Wednesday during a military raid after being held for three days. "I don't think any of us knew about it."

But Ingwerson, whose paper withheld reporting on the seven-month kidnapping of another Times reporter, David Rohde, earlier this year, says they would have kept quiet as the Times asked other news outlets to do. "We would have respected that," he says,. "We did not report on the David Rohde kidnapping although we knew about it for a while."

For other news outlets that adhered to the Times request yet again not to report on a reporter kidnapping, it was not a tough decision. Editors said where a life is in danger, it is easy to act.

"We were aware that there was a kidnapping and our view is that when we can assist in ensuring that there is a possibility of a safer avenue we would assist," said Marcus Brauchli, executive editor of The Washington Post. "This is not simply with regard to journalists. If we had a reason to believe someone was kidnapped and their lives were in greater danger if we printed something we would lean against it."

Asked about those who might accuse a newspaper of censoring news in this regard, Brauchli stated: "it is not really a worthy controversy. You do what you need to do to ensure the safety of journalists."

Roy Gutman, foreign editor of McClatchy Newspapers, agreed. "I think it was the right thing to do the second time around as well," said Gutman, whose newsroom also sat on the Rohde story for months. "Reporters have got to be very, very careful in that country. That is the big lesson of this."


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