Peril are plentiful for global journalist

Over the past 10 to 15 years, the rate of journalists being killed in Russia, Afghanistan and other countries has rapidly increased. Journalists in these countries face extremely difficult circumstances where they may be confronted with some sort of danger nearly every day and often have to leave assignments before finishing them.

The most common reason a journalist is killed or injured in one of these countries is if  what they write about either targets or goes against a group or leader’s ideas or way of ruling.

“There have been murders of journalists and imprisonments of journalists and in both cases, it’s politically motivated. For example, in Russia the government, in attempt to silence dissent, has deeply censored journalist. They have imprisoned or killed them if they have been writing pieces that are critical of the government’s policies or the Putin regime,” said History teacher Leigh Gozigian.

Military officials, government officials and political group members have been known to commit these crimes with little or no punishment. The vast majority of these cases remain unsolved with no trial or consequences.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, only 6% of trials under these circumstances result in full justice, only 8% receive partial justice and 86% of cases result in complete impunity with no consequences.

“In Afghanistan, the “bad actor” that has been committing these crimes against journalists have been radical islamic groups such as ISIS or ISIL and my understanding of their motivations to murder journalists are journalists are speaking out against these groups. They’re trying to strike fear into the populace who are critical of their objectives and methods,” said Gozigian.

Journalists in Afghanistan may be threatened, beaten, arrested, kidnapped, injured or killed while writing an article. Intimidating, abducting, and murdering people based on their job and influence is fairly common for ISIS’s brutality.

There is no one reason ISIS or other terrorists groups feel the need to censor news other than the journalists may complicate ISIS’s efforts in recruiting new members or have the potential to reveal ruinous behavior in which they cannot allow to be seen by the general population.

“I think it’s very important for journalists and other people who are able to get information circulating to do this work because it is a huge defense against terrorist groups and other corruption within the government. Journalists are able to expose these people and use their profession to help combat their violent actions and expose some of what they’re doing and it’s really unfortunate that their freedom of press isn’t as protected or followed in these other places,” said Animas High School Jr. Izzy Simpson.

Many journalists and activist groups knowingly jeopardize their safety in order to distribute pictures and videos documenting the harmful actions of terrorist groups and corrupt governments.

According to CPJ, 56 journalists have been killed in Russian and 30 have been killed in Afghanistan since 1992. They had been covering topics such as corruption, crime, culture, human rights, politics and war.

“Repressive regimes around the world kill journalists. In America it’s less common, although journalists were killed on the job as recently as 2015, according to the CPJ. It recently emerged that some Associated Press reporters were rotated out of covering Donald Trump’s presidential campaign due to fears for their safety. Other reporters were routinely harassed during the campaign by overzealous Trump supporters,” Chuck Slothower, a former Durango Herald reporter and editor, said.

During the presidential campaign and following the results, the acceptance and respect for journalists in the United States has greatly lessened due to remarks made my Donald Trump about the press and media as well as his supporters reacting negatively towards comments made about Trump by journalists.

Many reporters were taken off of assignments because they felt their safety was in jeopardy while following his campaign. Donald Trump made personal attacks against reporters by name and obstructed major news organizations, influencing a lot of his supporters to do the same.

“Part of the job is every now and then having to disregard your own safety to tell a story. We are taught to keep ourselves safe, but keep in mind that even during this election journalists were targeted and harassed. Part of being a journalist is knowing that you’re not always going to be safe. Telling the story often has a higher purpose,” Jason Gonzales, a former Durango Herald reporter, said.