A close shave: journalists at the sharp end

The owner of the Independent Evgeny Lebedev’s impassioned plea today for journalists to be protected from attack in the course of their work is … timely.

In fact it’s always timely to be reminded of the fact that journalists are a vital pillar of any properly functioning democratic society. And this is notwithstanding the recent hammering that some parts of the profession have taken in this country over phone-hacking and other illegal activity. The fall-out from Leveson shouldn’t distract us from the extremely serious work that journalists regularly do.

Two quick examples.

First the range and quality of entries to the annual Amnesty media awards. Just a quick skim through the recently-released shortlist for this year’s awards will give you a good flavour of this.

And secondly, the steady flow of bulky Amnesty reports documenting attacks on journalists around the world - a reminder that all too often it’s the humble reporter in the firing line. So later this week there’s another big report on the topic - this time covering Syria, now a perilous place to put pen to paper as a working journalist (or indeed as a so-called “citizen journalist” doing your best to document atrocities through YouTube uploads or the like).

With Evgeny Lebedev being something of a “media baron” himself - he and his father Alexander are the proprietors of the Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The London Evening Standard and the very successful “i”, as well as Alexander being part-owner of the leading independent Russian paper Novaya Gazeta - Lebedev’s editorial today might almost seem like special pleading. Except, not many people get deliberately targeted and killed merely for doing their jobs (even famously dangerous occupations like fire fighters don’t usually involve this kind of special risk). Many journalists are, you might say, fairly familiar with a degree of danger, the close shave, the lucky escape. And sometimes ... the not-so-lucky outcome.

So, I totally support Mr Lebedev’s Voices in Danger campaign. I wish him well with it and, in keeping with my (very weak) facial hair theme, I’d like to end by saying - great beard Evgeny*!

[*I’ve long been an admirer of Evgeny Lebedev’s beard! What a fine bit of facial sculpting …]


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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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