Friday, April 26, 2002

Drive-By Journalism
Parallel to the tragedy tourists who trekked to New York City immediately after 911, it's not uncommon that American and other journalists travel to far-off lands to document military, ethnic, environmental, and economic conflicts -- and then return home after the stories are filed and the reading public's interest in the events wanes. reports that the locals who assist these drive-by journalists are not so lucky; they can't leave. Their homes are the homes of the conflicts. And they need to be careful of what they do for whom -- and who knows about their work. Jennifer Bauduy's article highlights several cases in which sources for sensitive stories were later kidnapped and otherwise silenced so stories wouldn't be told.

Clearly, people on both sides of the equation have some sense of the risks involved in such journalism -- people decide to travel to hotspots to cover conflicts, and people decide to help reporters tell the most accurate stories possible so the rest of the world knows what's going on. But what are the responsibilities of the journalists in working with and perhaps even protecting their sources and local supporters?

The journalists can always go home. The locals are already there.

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