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Extra lives at stake when journalists killed

by LZ Granderson

CNN anchor Sara Sidner was stay on air from the West Financial institution when she was confronted by an indignant pro-Palestine protester. He walked as much as her shortly — getting inside a few inches of her face — earlier than yelling: “You aren’t welcome right here, genocide supporters. … F— CNN.”

Whereas Sidner remained calm throughout the encounter Friday, watching the scene unfold was fairly disturbing. Since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, no less than 23 journalists have been killed overlaying the latest outbreak of violence. Three different journalists are unaccounted for.

Sidner and her crew had been lucky to not be harmed, however that doesn’t imply they’re protected.

As photos from the battle clarify, in Israel and the occupied territories proper now, there isn’t any such factor as protected.

Not for youngsters. Not for the aged. Not even for these already ailing within the hospital.

In accordance with the Washington Put up, photojournalist Muhammad Sobh was carrying a flak jacket, helmet and different protecting gear when the constructing during which he and a colleague, Hisham al-Nawajah, had been sheltering was hit by a bomb. They had been each killed.

There’s a folksy saying in journalism: If one particular person says it’s raining and one other says it’s not, a reporter’s job is to not quote them each however to look out the window and see whether or not it’s raining. Generally “going to the window” locations journalists in hurt’s method. How else would the world study what’s happening?

The aim of journalism hasn’t modified, however the reactions of politicians and the general public are unrecognizable from the Walter Cronkite period.

Throughout his first marketing campaign for president, Donald Trump vilified journalists for his personal political achieve and whipped up supporters to harass them, dealing new harm to the already fractured belief between the voters and the free press.

However journalists aren’t an enemy of the state. Within the U.S., the press is even enshrined within the Structure as important infrastructure to maintain the state accountable.

Sadly, numerous elements are stacking up towards that free press concept. Not solely mortal threat in battle zones that might deter reporting. Not simply eroding belief right here within the U.S. One of many largest threats is solely math.

Calculated enterprise choices result in consolidation of possession, funds cuts and in the end closing numerous newsrooms. The connection between journalism and company media homeowners is more and more just like Silicon Valley “money out” dynamics. Legacy newspapers and networks are being handled like startups whose objective is to generate income in a portfolio.

When native information sources die off, there is a rise in polarization and a lower in civic engagement, together with voter turnout. The U.S. misplaced greater than 360 newspapers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2005, the toll has been 25% of the nation’s papers, in response to a Northwestern College examine, leaving roughly 70 million residents in a neighborhood information desert and numerous journalists out of labor.

Lots of People could welcome that decline in newsgathering. However lots of these individuals — together with former President Trump — in all probability don’t prefer it when journalists inform the general public the reality. When journalism is at its finest, courageous reporters have uncovered corruption in metropolis halls and threats to public well being. Journalism may even contribute to ending a battle, as was the case in Vietnam.

Sidner posted on-line Monday: “… Some within the small group of protestors gathered supported Hamas and wore or waved Hamas flags as a result of they see Hamas as only a navy wing of the Palestinian battle to finish the occupation. However a lot of the world sees Hamas’ terroristic actions towards Israel residents as a redline that was crossed and might’t be tolerated this time round.”

And in the course of this are reporters risking their lives in order that we could all have a greater understanding of an more and more maddening world. Some, like Motaz Azaiza, do much more. After an Israeli strike into Gaza, Azaiza will be seen in a car holding two crying infants lined in blood. He mentioned they had been injured and given to him presumably to get them to security.

However there isn’t any security.

“Journalists in Gaza face notably excessive dangers as they attempt to cowl the battle,” the Committee to Shield Journalists acknowledged.

In 2018, Yaser Murtaja was fatally shot whereas overlaying protests in Gaza. He reportedly was carrying a flak jacket with “press” on it. On Sunday, an Israeli airstrike took the lifetime of Roshdi Sarraj, additionally a Palestinian journalist, in Gaza Metropolis.

Reporters overlaying battle shine a highlight on the worst acts that people can commit. The accounts that they publish can inform the general public and, in flip, affect leaders making choices that have an effect on hundreds of thousands.

The on a regular basis work of reporters and photographers within the relative security of the US could not have the identical stakes, however the framers knew it was a matter of life and dying for the republic.

At residence and overseas, journalists can’t all the time be protected. Nonetheless, occasions of battle remind us that journalism must be.

LZ Granderson is an op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Occasions.