Victims of the war
Since fighting began, 16 media assistants and 39 journalists have been killed, at least 10 wounded, 4 are still missing and 12 are kidnapped

Press Releases - Reports

19.09 - Iraq
Progress in hunt for missing media workers
Progress is being made in the enquiry into what happened to French cameraman Frédéric Nérac and Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman, both of the British TV network ITN, who disappeared in southern Iraq two days after the start of the US-British invasion six months ago. No solid clues have been found by British military investigators but searches are under way and US forces are now cooperating.

30.05 - Iraq
Britain and France urged to investigate disappearance of ITN cameraman Fred Nérac and Lebanese colleague
19.05 - Iraq
Journalists down tools at start of EU ministers meeting in protest over Fred Nérac
13.05 - Iraq
Incredulity at British refusal to help investigate disappearance of two ITN crew members
7.05 - Iraq
UK defence minister urged to pledge more help in search for two ITN journalists missing in Iraq
2.05 - Iraq
In welcome but belated move, US army orders enquiry into shooting on ITN crew
23.04 - Iraq
Reporters without Borders not satisfied with replies from the Pentagon and the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission
13.04 - Iraq
CNN crew’s bodyguard fires back with automatic weapon when crew comes under fire
News organisation’s use of firearm sets dangerous precedent
8.04 - Iraq
Reporters Without Borders outraged at bombing of Al-Jazeera office in Baghdad
8.04 - United Kingdom
Media attacked by ministers and MPs for Iraq war coverage
3.04 - Iraq
Iraqi authorities accused of contempt for foreign journalists
31.03 - Iraq
Coalition accused of showing "contempt" for journalists covering war in Iraq
31.03 - Iraq
Reporters Without Borders calls on Iraqi authorities to explain disappearance of four journalists
28.03 - Iraq
Reporters Without Borders makes urgent appeal to all sides in the war to help find nine missing journalists
26.03 - United-States
Al-Jazeera TV station singled out in ban by New York Stock Exchange
26.03 - Iraq
Gen. Tommy Franks asked to order enquiry into death of British TV reporter and disappearance of two colleagues
22.03 - Iraq
Two journalists killed, two missing and two wounded
19.03 - War in Iraq
Reporters Without Borders calls on the US to guarantee that the media can work freely and in safety
11.03 - Kuwait
Ban on foreign journalists passing reports to Israeli news media
25.02 - Iraq
The Iraqi media : 25 years of relentless repression

sbreaking news

19.06 - Satisfied Pentagon plans to repeat "embedding"

The US defence department’s chief spokesperson, Victoria Clarke, has said the Pentagon was very happy with the outcome of the "embedding" of some 700 journalists with US military units during the war in Iraq. During a conference on 17 June on news coverage during the war, she said people appreciated the embedding and would like to do it again. She added that more journalists should be brought into this process next time, especially foreign journalists.

Journalists participating in the conference said they also liked embedding because it gave them direct access to the front lines and a broader perspective. Many TV journalists said being embedded with marines allowed them both to increase the depth of battlefield coverage and avoid censorship to a much greater degree.

But CNN journalist Bob Franken said he and some of his colleagues had to nuance their reporting out of loyalty to the US military.

Marvin Kalb, a Harvard university professor and former TV journalist, said everyone was very lucky the embedding formula worked out and this was because the war was short. If the war had been longer, there would have been more American casualties and the existing level of enthusiasm in the Pentagon for embedding might have fallen, he said.

Read all the news

JM Charon column

Jean-Marie Charon is a sociologist specialising in the media who works at the France’s National Scientific Research Centre. He has written books and articles about journalism. He writes a daily comment on the Reporters Without Borders website about the media’s coverage of the war in Iraq.

Journalist !
(18.04.2003) US troops were preparing to attack the regime’s last stronghold, Tikrit, just a few days ago. But the first shots fired involved Iraqi positions and... a TV crew. (...)

Related documents
RSF 1992 Iraq Annual Report
Journalists killed since 1992
CFLCC Ground Rules Agreement
Extract of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions on the protection of journalists
Extract of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war

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Between the lines

Egyptian media caught in the middle

15.04 - By Kamel Labidi, a Tunisian journalist based in Cairo

Egypt’s powerful state media structure was told by the government at the start of the war to avoid any coverage that might aggravate the feelings of an already inflamed public or harm the country’s "strategic" ties with the United States.

Annual US aid to Egypt, second only to US aid to Israel, is about $1.8 billion. Apart from this sum, which dates back to the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Camp David Agreement, the US government, just before its invasion of Iraq, promised more financial aid to its allies in the region, including Egypt.

"Don’t present the war as an attack on the Iraqi people or killed civilians as martyrs and never forget to point out that Saddam Hussein is largely responsible for all the woes that have befallen Iraq," were some of the instructions to editors in the government-controlled and pro-government media, according to one editor.

Implementing these orders sparked strong reaction all over the country right from the start of the war. The government very quickly revised its communication strategy in the hope of narrowing the gap between it and a general public increasingly pro-Iraq and opposed to the US and its Arab allies.

One of the sharpest reactions to the government’s attitude to the war came from a mixed group of 28 prominent intellectuals, including several long-standing columnists for the semi-official daily Al-Ahram, such as Mohamed Sid Ahmed, Salama Ahmed Salama and the Islamist Fahmy Howeidi.

"This is a colonial attack," they said in response to President Hosni Mubarak’s charge on 19 March that the Iraqi leader had prepared the ground for the US intervention by his 1991 invasion of Kuwait.

It was the first time a group of intellectuals had publicly disagreed with the Egyptian leader since he came to power in 1981 but their stand, reported in the opposition paper Al-Arabi on 23 March, was not mentioned by most of the media.

Other criticism of the government came from a group of journalists on Al-Ahram, which despite being a semi-official paper sometimes prints a wider range of views than some opposition papers.

"The history of Al-Ahram is bigger than support for the United States," said the journalists in an angry letter to the head of the Al-Ahram media group, Ibrahim Nafie, who also leads the Egyptian journalists’ union and the Arab Journalists’ Federation, which is closer to the authorities than to journalists.

In the letter, printed in the opposition paper Al-Ahali on 26 March, they criticised Al-Ahram’s management for supporting "without any debate or discussion" the US position, which they said was the work of "Zionist and extreme rightwing hawks" in the United States.

Howeidi noted that it was usual for the government to ask Al-Ahram to say what it did not dare to say openly itself.

The weekly Cairo Times of 10 April quoted an unnamed source inside Al-Ahram who said journalists had been asked not to criticise President George Bush. The source said the government would not allow any direct criticism of Bush and wanted softer coverage of the war since the US was an ally of Egypt and indeed its master.

The attitude of Al-Ahram, which recently broke some kind of record for the number of interviews it published with US and British officials, contrasts with that of most Egyptian newspapers, some of which are openly anti-US and fiercely denounce Bush.

The growing hostility to the US and the Arab regimes expressed during almost daily street protests in a country that has been under a state of emergency for the past 22 years has obliged the government to close its eyes to this trenchant criticism of US and British leaders in the written press.

Even the broadcasting media, which carefully obeyed the government’s instructions at the start of the war, later tried to air some criticism of the US-British invasion. But it was not very successful.

"Compared with the other satellite networks, local TV and satellite station coverage was weak," said Cairo University journalism faculty teacher Safwat Al-Alem. The popularity of Arab stations such as Al-Jazeera with Egyptian viewers has made things difficult for the Egyptian authorities and forced them to make small concessions concerning press freedom.

But the arrests of journalists and the beating of some by police during the recent anti-war protests shows how hostile the authorities still are to freedom of expression, even if they sometimes handle the media more intelligently than most of the region’s authoritarian regimes.


See also
Non-"embedded" journalist criticises US and Iraqi attitudes
The real time war
"Exciting times" for "embedded" journalists
The war in pictures : Patrick Baz talks to the French radio station France-Info
In Jordan, "you have to ask permission for everything"
Working in Baghdad : problems and dangers
Baghdad : very limited freedom
Get in... or get lost !
US television
- overstepping the patriotic mark ?

Do you show them or not ?