Hardly anything compares to the dangers journalists face in Syria, where James Foley, a freelance photojournalist for GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse, was beheaded by a jihadist from the Islamic State.
The Internet posting of the ghastly murder suggests that the global jihadi wars have crossed into a new stage, which journalists are not just at risk but targets to be kidnapped and held for ransom or gruesomely killed for purposes of propaganda.
Syria has led the world for the past two years as a dangerous place to practice journalism, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, of which I am a board member. At least 70, most of them Syrians, have been killed covering the conflict and more than 80 have been abducted, CPJ’s highest tally in its 33-year history. About 20, most of them Syrians, are currently missing in the country.
Journalists don’t face risks like that for practicing journalism in this country, which is one of many excellent reasons to live here.
But in Ferguson, Mo., where protests and some eruptions of violence followed the Aug. 9 police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, journalists sometimes were arrested, detained, manhandled or harassed by police, according to various accounts.
Since Brown’s death, local or state police have arrested or detained at least 11 reporters or photographers, according to a running tab on the Poynter Institute’s website. Even Amnesty International sent human-rights observers to the city to support free speech and press — the first time it’s done so in this country.