Sunday, November 23, 2014

Challenges of Reporting

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

A number of  news stories in the last few months about the barbaric beheading of Western journalists by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq Islamofascists have raised questions about the vulnerabilities of the reporters, correspondents and press photographers working in the conflict and war zones. In fact, incidents of killings and violence against reporters and journalists have been repeatedly reported in recent times across the world, making the profession of journalism the most dangerous and vulnerable in the world.

Even during the Cold War period in the world, the lives of the reporters and correspondents were lot safer than today. For that matter, during the period of notorious Panchayat regime in Nepal, many journalists were harassed, threatened  and jailed, but no  journalist was ever killed during the Panchayat regime (except there was an assassination attempt on Padam Thakurathi).

During the Panchayat regime, Nepal was an absolute monarchy and did not tolerate any challenge to its rule. No body dared to utter any words against the royalty and its extended family. Publicly  calling for a multiparty system could result in long prison sentences.

Nevertheless, reporting for mass media like newspapers, radio, TV channels and news agencies has been  a challenging assignment for journalists across the world. Today more than ever, when violence, conflict, civil war and war have gripped so many nations, the reporters and correspondents working in the conflict and war zones are expected to take up the gauntlet to the extent of sacrificing their lives.

The number of reporters and journalists being killed in conflict-ridden and war zones in the world are on the rise today more than ever. So many journalists were killed in Nepal during the Maoist insurgency. Even after Nepal was declared a republic, so many journalists have been assassinated.

No doubt, regular reporting about different incidents and accidents, obviously,  is out of danger, but conflict and war reporting, crime, corruption and investigative reporting have always been the dangerous beats of journalism.

Today, ISIS has been posing as terrible menace for the international journalists. Gruesome and merciless beheading of Western journalists by the ISIS Islamofascists was outrageous and deplorable. These barbaric killings of the international journalists have underscored the vulnerabilities of the international journalists working in the conflict and war zones.

Many journalists and reporters suffer attacks and sometimes face fatal assaults because of what they write. Hundreds of the journalists have been killed in the conflict-war zones. Many of them have been abducted and subsequently killed in a barbaric fashion. In the last ten years, nearly 600 reporters and journalists have been killed in both conflict and non-conflict situations.

Despite the tremendous strides in digital technology, communication and protective equipment, reporting from conflict-ridden and  war zones  has become more perilous and vulnerable to the insane militants and Muslim fundamentalists.

Today, the challenges facing the international journalists  in the conflict and war zones are formidable. Therefore, the bottom line for the reporters working in the conflict and war zones: take stock of the situation and test the waters before embarking on the journalistic assignment.

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