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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Superheroes Without Capes...

CNN's reputation for international news-gathering reflects the network's commitment to keeping bureaus open and staffed at a time when nearly everyone else is cutting them
and relying solely on local stringers or newsfeeds. (The online commitment is also visible, with not only a separate International edition of the CNN.com home page, but also World versions available in Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Turkish languages.) The commitment has been especially strong in the Middle East, and for good reason!

A vital part of staffing those bureaus, though, is finding journalists who are not only good at their jobs, but are willing to put themselves at risk -- in this fast-changing world, that may mean war, terrorist attacks, governmental crackdowns, and any number of other situations. Here's a look at a couple current hotspots:

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You may have heard about the Saudi blogger who was arrested early last month and has been held without charges ever since. Fouad Alfarhan was one of the first bloggers in that country to publish under his own name, something he encouraged others to do. His apparent "crime" was calling for reforms and an end to human rights violations, things that we take for granted in the United States. 

This morning on Your World Today, Hala Gorani and Nic Robertson (both in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to cover President Bush's visit) gave an update to Fouad's status:

video

I don't know about you, but the thought of someone being "interrogated" in a Saudi prison gives me chills. For the first four weeks of his captivity, he was not allowed any visitors; however, recently his father-in-law was allowed to visit him for one hour. The family has declined to talk to the media about his situation and condition.

If you would like more information, or to sign an online petition or get the code to post the Free Fouad blog notice, visit the Free Fouad website. You can also read his original website (being maintained by friends in his absence) here.

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Peter Bergen at Afghan-Pakistan border, 2003
photo credit: Scott Wallace

In the wake of Benazir Bhutto's assassination in Pakistan last month, we saw several CNN reporters and analysts go to Pakistan to monitor the situation. Peter Bergen, CNN's terrorism analyst, returned last week and spoke yesterday at an event at the New America Foundation (the think-tank Peter is affiliated with) in Washington DC. Also there was Nicholas Schmidle, a writer who has been living in Pakistan for the past two years, but whose recent NYT article got him a one-way ticket home from the Pakistani government.

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Press freedom -- print, video, or internet -- is something we can take for granted here, but the reporters who go out to get the stories often risk their liberty and their lives to keep us informed. To learn more about the dangers journalists are facing worldwide, visit the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.



(Yes, I have all three bookmarked. You're not really surprised, are you? And yes, Michael Ware is due back in Baghdad soon...)



These men and women are superheroes without capes. We should all be grateful that they are crazy enough to do what they do!


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4 comments:

MWmcFan said...

Excellent post tonight Cyn, thank you for the Hala/Nic clip. Keeping Fouad’s plight front and center is very important to show that the world is watching. May Fouad be released soon. The NAF talk was very intense and informative about the latest news in Pakistan. And I have missed Michael Ware and look forward to seeing him on CNN soon.

Mavis said...

I have a bumper sticker that says,

"I believe in superheroes!"

jodi54 said...

Thank you for the links and for keeping the safety of journalists highlighted. Unfettered reporting is at the heart of our Democracy.

I, too, look forward to the return of Michael Ware. He is more than just courageous, he is a gifted reporter.

Delie said...

Great post, Cyn, great post.And thanks for the links.
We have two French journalists who are detained in Niger... I hope they will be released soon.