Intl committee on journos safety being established

MUMBAI: An international committee is being established to investigate the dangers facing journalists around the world and to recommend ways to protect them in their work.



The director of BBC's global news division Richard Sambrook will chair the committee..Sambrook is responsible for leading the BBC's overall international news strategy across radio, TV and online

Media organisations, government representatives, non-government organisations and human rights campaigners will be involved in the committee of inquiry, which is being led by the International News Safety Institute (INSI).



Addressing the annual Poliak Lecture, hosted by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York Sambrook said, "Journalists are now at risk to a greater extent than they have ever been before. Where once their neutrality was widely recognised and respected, today they are targeted and sought out [by aggressors]. They are seen as high-profile representatives of their countries or cultures.

"Increased partisanship in our media may have played a part in that; there may be other factors too. But with 85 journalists or support staff killed in the last year, we, as an industry, cannot carry on and do nothing. It is now one of the biggest inhibitions on freedom of reporting."

In his wide-ranging speech, Sambrook also focussed on the issue of objectivity in journalism. He called on broadcasters and publications to avoid patriotic reporting and reminded them of their "responsibility" to "ask the difficult questions".

"Before Iraq, it seemed to me that some US news broadcasters wrapped themselves in the flag and, as a consequence, did not perform the role the public expects of them. I understand the problem. The mindset of the country was that it was at war. Our natural instinct is to support our country.

"But the responsibility of the news media is to ask the difficult questions, to press, to verify. And we now know that all of us failed to ask the right questions about WMD in advance of the war. That isn't to say the war was wrong. Each person can make up his / her own mind up about that. But to do so they need accurate information, evidence that has been tested."

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