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War Coverage by Journalists Considered Most Dangerous Job


Dozens of journalists from around the world have been killed, injured or kidnapped in Iraq since the U.S. invaded the country three years ago. War coverage for news reporters has been one of the most dangerous parts of their job. VOA Chris Simkins reports on the risky business of covering wars and why so many reporters have been killed covering the Iraq war.

The world is more dangerous than ever for news reporters, especially in Iraq and the Middle East region. According to Reporters Without Borders, a group that tracks attacks on journalists, the Iraq war is the deadliest since World War II.

The group says 79 reporters and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since 2003. The journalists have come from many countries, including Germany, the United States, Iran, Iraq, Britain and Australia. During the Vietnam War, 63 reporters were killed.

Veteran war correspondent Jim Wooten says unlike past conflicts, the Iraq war is far more dangerous for reporters.

"In Iraq, a reporter knows nothing of that, no front, no movement of troops in one direction, insurgents pop up, they kill, they maim, they loot, and they disappear," he says.

Terrorist strikes and Iraqi insurgent attacks were the main cause of deaths and injuries for reporters in Iraq. The risk was brought home to many Americans in recent days after ABC News television anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman were seriously injured after the military vehicle they were riding in hit a roadside bomb.

In 2003 Time Magazine reporter Michael Weiskopf lost a hand in a grenade attack while traveling in a military humvee. "You jump into the cross hairs every time you get into a humvee."

Reporters Without Borders says, in addition to the attacks, 31 journalists have been kidnapped in Iraq since the war started. Five of the kidnap victims were killed. The fate of one American reporter, Jill Carroll who worked for The Christian Science Monitor, is still unknown. She was kidnapped and her driver was killed as they drove their own vehicle down a Baghdad street.

Rodney Pinder, with the International News Safety Institute, says embedding journalists with military units offers a measure of protection especially since the threat of kidnapping and attacks have made traveling alone very risky. "We've got cameras into places where they never would have been before, and I think the world's eyes have been opened to the reality of war in a way that has never happened before."

Media analysts say more journalists will likely die on the job in Iraq.