Richard Engel's kidnapping offers sober warning about dangers — and importance — of foreign reporting
As soon as news leaked about the kidnapping in Syria of NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and his crew — I braced for the worst.
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. And it reminds me that we must applaud and remember the bravery of journalists who risk their lives every day to find out what's happening in some of the most politically unstable places on earth.
After five days in captivity, Engel and team re-emerged Tuesday in Turkey. They appeared unscathed and profoundly humbled by an experience in which they were "psychologically tortured" by threats of being traded or executed.
The Arabic-speaking reporter described their harrowing experience on NBC's "Today."
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Syria and Somalia are the most dangerous places for journalists to work today. There was a sharp rise this year in the number of journalists killed in those two countries.
With two weeks left before the end of the year, the committee reports 67 journalists have lost their lives while reporting on conflicts within their own or other countries. That's a 42 percent increase over 2011. (The record is 74 individuals killed in 2009, most of them massacred in the Philippines.)
Here's CPJ's chilling database that profiles victims dating back to 1992, when they started keeping record. Here's another sobering interactive that tracks where 232 journalists are currently imprisoned.
So again, Engel and his team are lucky to be safe. Others have not been so fortunate.
Freelance journalist Austin Tice went missing in Syria last August during assignments for McClatchy News Service and the Washington Post. No one has heard from him since. As reported in this Christian Science Monitor story, his family is desperate for clues.
Foreign correspondents understand the risks of crossing into dangerous places. They're a gutsy bunch.
I salute them for their courage to put themselves in harm's way in pursuit of the truth.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
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