Al Jazeera has reported a story on the increased frequency of attacks on journalists in the Middle East in the last 20 years, coming at a time that seems to back it up frighteningly well. The deaths last year of several journalists in Syria and the ongoing danger to those entering states in turmoil shows an alarming trend. The al Jazeera story cites a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists that states 438 journalists were killed since 1992.
Journalists are meant to be above the fray, independent of bias and essentially an untouchable entity in most scenarios. Personal biases often find their way into a story somehow, and often there is a message other than the just the news. However, the general idea has been that one way or another, the pertinent information being reported would get out. There are obviously the occasional freak accidents in which a journalist has been injured or killed, but the odds are fairly good that they have not been the specific target, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Al Jazeera and the CPJ, however, assert that journalists have been increasingly the targets of specific kidnappings or attacks meant to cover up various acts and prevent their spread to the outside world. This has forced a new reliance on independent, everyday citizens to show what has been happening when the rest of the world is blinded – the conflict in Syria is the perfect example, with citizens turned soldiers posting videos on youtube. In fact, even top Syrian defectors have announced their defection through youtube videos which have only later been picked up by recognized news sources. In the digital age, new media seems to be replacing what was once considered revolutionary as it becomes more and more dangerous for professionals to venture into the field.