Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Alan Johnston released

What a fantastic start to the day: switching on the computer at work, hitting the BBC website only to discover that - yes - Alan Johnston has at last been released after a marathon 114 days in captivity at the hands of the Army of Islam. The sense of relief and joy he must be experiencing can only be imagined by those who have been in a similar situation and survived.

Is it wrong of me to hope that he puts in for a transfer to a safer desk than Gaza? In fact, he may well have no choice, given that his future coverage of Hamas risks being tainted by the fact that they secured his release. That fact aside, the journalist in me still feels that either Johnston or someone else from the BBC should remain based in Gaza, simply because there's no one else there to report what's happening to the outside world. Reporting is one of the riskiest jobs on earth, but that doesn't mean it should be shied away from. Rather, better measures should be used by news organisations to ensure that their journalists are as well-protected as possible in conflict zones.

According to Reporters Without Borders, 2006 saw:

  • 81 journalists and 32 media assistants killed;
  • 871 arrested;
  • 1,472 physically attacked or threatened; and
  • 56 kidnapped.


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