Sex slave survivor wins Nobel Prize


At the age of 25, Nadia Murad is using her experience and losses to fight against ISIS and is now a winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.

Murad testified before a U.S. Senate committee in Washington in 2016, the world discovered and learned about her horrific experience.

The unexpected happened when ISIS militants kidnapped, enslaved and raped her in Mosul in 2014 while she was a high school student. Her mother along with six of her nine brothers were executed by ISIS militants.

“Nearly 6,500 women and children from the Yazidi were abducted and about 5,000 people from the community were killed during that day. For eight months, they separated us from our mothers and our sisters and our brothers, and some of them were killed and other disappeared,” said Murad, in an interview with CNN.

After an attempt to escape, she was gang-raped by ISIS militants but she eventually escaped to Mosul and a Muslim family helped her to escape ISIS territory.

It takes tremendous courage to attempt to escape ISIS militants and Murad not only escaped but is now fighting for women’s rights and advocate for Yazidi minority in Iraq and refugees’ rights as well.

While she survived ISIS, many kids and young women and men are still under the influence and enslavement of ISIS. It is up to news media outlets to change America’s perspective on refugees. Today’s society in America believes or feel that bringing in refugees is dangerous and unnecessary. People are scared of what bringing in refugees can mean to the country.

But these people need help. Thanks to stories like these, more awareness can be spread that refugees need help.

Murad spoke to members of the U.S. Congress and urged them to be more aggressive towards ISIS, declaring: “Daesh will not give up their weapons unless we force them to give up their weapons…. the Yazidi people cannot wait.”

According to CNN, Murad has won the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, the Sakharov Prize, the Clinton Global Citizen Award and the Peace Prize from the United Nations Association of Spain, United Nations’ first goodwill ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. She has published a New York Times bestselling memoir titled “The Last Girl.”

It is not about all the awards she has won, it is about the issue and how there are still underage girls and endless victims suffering under ISIS. The media as well as congress needs to do more, and teach our society that refugees are not the enemy. We should not be against refugees, but help them.

Iraqi police capture top IS members


Iraqi forces in coordination with U.S.-backed Syrian forces have captured five senior Islamic State group leaders, the U.S.-led coalition said Thursday in a statement.

The arrest was a “significant blow to Daesh,” U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon, coalition spokesman, said, using the Arabic acronym for the extremist group.IS fighters no longer control significant pockets of territory inside Iraq, but do maintain a grip inside Syria along Iraq’s border.

The U.S.-led coalition supported Iraqi ground forces and Syrian fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces in the more than three-year war against IS. After Iraqi forces retook the Iraqi city of Mosul from IS last summer, Syrian forces on the other side of the border claimed a series of swift victories, but the campaign was stalled recently when Turkey launched a cross-border raid into Syria’s north.

Earlier this month the coalition announced a drive to clear the final pockets of IS territory inside Syria. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted about the anti-IS raid Thursday, saying those arrested were the “five most wanted” IS “leaders.”

Last year the Pentagon said that there were “some indicators” that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was still alive a month after Russia claimed to have killed him in a strike near the Syrian city of Raqqa. None of the statements released Thursday from the president or the coalition named the IS fighters arrested. IS fighters swept into Iraq in the summer of 2014, taking control of nearly a third of the country. At the height of the group’s power their self-proclaimed caliphate stretched from the edges of Aleppo in Syria to just north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Now, with the group’s physical caliphate largely destroyed, anti-IS operations are increasingly focused on targeting the extremists’ remaining leadership.

The other fieldwork in Tongo Tongo


It has been a month since the killing of four American and five Nigerien soldiers in the village of Tongo Tongo in Nigeria by terrorist groups of the region. The patrol, composed of 30 soldiers, was conducting a routine reconnaissance mission when the soldiers were entrusted other mission. They sought to capture one of the main targets of the U.S., in Niger, a man of the ISIS.

The patrol didn’t find its objective so it headed to the base. On the way, the soldiers were ambushed by a group of approximately 50 people and probably associated with ISIS. There were four victims of the U.S. Army, Sgts. Bryan C. Black, Jeremiah W. Johnson, Dustin M. Wright and La David T. Johnson.

This last death has created controversy because the body of the La David T. Johnson was recovered two days after the attack and a mile away from the crime scene. Also, Donald Trump’s condolences to the widow of the sergeant have been described as insensitive and disrespectful.

The American troops were sent to Niger in 2013 to help French Army to stop the rise of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS or Boko Haram. There are 800 American soldiers assigned to Niger.

The U.S. troops are not permitted direct action against the enemy. So, the Pentagon is investigating if there was any change in the mission entrusted.

While official sources try to clarify everything, a CNN reporter, Arwa Damon, has traveled to Tongo Tongo, to find the truth.

She described the landscape to make it easier to understand how the ambush was held. In her article, she describes her purpose as “looking for answers to the many questions that continue to churn around the attack”. She talked with first-hand sources, another great journalist’s practice.

As she was exposed, she didn’t have enough time to investigate deeper. But everything she told gives us clues of how could be the battle.

While the government could be interested in hiding part of the truth, a great practice of a journalist, as carry out fieldwork and talk with first-hand sources, allows us to know more about the situation in Tongo Tongo.

It’s important that journalists don’t wait in their offices to write stories from just an official statement. Journalists have to be suspect of everything, find out the truth themselves, never confine themselves to official sources and try to have a first-hand story to tell their audience.

Terror war: Florida soldiers get orders


An article in The Miami Herald indicated that 700 soldiers from the Florida National Guard are going to the Horn of Africa to be part of the U.S. military operations against extremists organizations. The article has much to offer in the matter of informing readers about what’s going on, but it does not go deeper on the matter of what this means to Florida or to the U.S military.

The article could focus on the soldiers that are going there; their stories, what they are expecting from this operation, whether they think it is a valuable cause or if they should first defend their own homes to then defend other countries.

The text is really straight-forward, there are other details about other U.S operations across Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, but that is the deepest the article would go into.

There could be interviews with the former chief of the Florida National Guard or whoever is guiding this troops, because they are representing Florida and I think they should have a say on what will be our part on the mission and whether it will help the situation in Africa or not.

Other additional information like the terrorism that happens in the United States or even the extremists groups that surround the state of Florida (if there’s any) or around the nation could be cited, because readers might wonder why they are sending Floridians soldiers all the way to Africa instead of resolving their problems locally first.

The article describes basic information of the event, it focuses more on the military operation itself and on Florida National Guard, but it could be more explored in other aspects.

The ugly truth about the conflict


On a recent PBS Frontline, the impending chaos of ISIS was shown. While the current situation is grim, a new longstanding threat is being made. Children as young as three years old are being taught jihad and the violence that comes with “defending the faith,” like how to shoot guns, throw grenades, and behead “infidels.” The documentary gave viewers a firsthand look at the crisis that is being passed onto another generation.

With the recent Paris attacks and the hinted threat to Washington D.C., ISIS has generated the momentum that they want in terms of media fame. They want to be recognized as a threat, and are proving just that with these terrorist attacks.

Journalists live dangerously, as Najibullah Quraishi risked his life to give us this story. Journalists must have a wide variety of adaptable skills, as shown by Najibullah’s determination to get this story to us. Camped out in an ISIS controlled community, he narrates the story of these young children being exposed to all of the violence so early on.

The news media have the power of unleashing the ugly truth, but it is what we need to see in order to realize what is going on. Many people may be unaware of the whole situation and only recently heard of this threat when the Paris attacks occurred. This is why the media needs to show the hard truth in order to illicit a response that can multiply into awareness and eventually bring on change.

The Frontline documentary, in which a journalist went on site into an ISIS dominated community and saw how jihadists were teaching young children how to use weapons and fight, provided a look into the future, as the passing of this ideology makes one think: will this terrorism ever stop?

Governors refuse Syrian refugees


According to ABC News, at least half of the country’s governors are refusing to take in Syrian refugees in their states amid heightened security concerns following last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Paris terrorist attacks, in which 129 people were killed. Since Friday’s attacks, ISIS has threatened to attack Washington, D.C., and New York.

This chilling effect has influenced several United States governors to refuse Syrian refugees. Ultimately the federal government decides on matters of immigration, not the states.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas has taken to Twitter to express his opposition to allowing refugees.

This tweet caused a mostly negative reaction from his followers and media consumers alike.

An individual with the twitter handle @jonvox responded to Hutchinson’s tweet saying, “ You are a horrible man and make me embarrassed to be an Arkansan.”

Likewise, Facebook and YouTube have been flooded with political comics and videos that compare the current refugee crisis to World War II.

Those who support the relocation of refugees in the United States have compared the current government opposition specifically to the opposition towards Jewish refugees.

The dissenting opinion of the U.S. governors is less likely to be accepted by media consumers on social media because of the chilling effect of terrorism.

The media and the Mid-East conflict


The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most easiest conflicts to explain, yet the most difficult to solve. It is a conflict that many people across the world are bored of because they do not understand it. So how are the news media helping this? How are the news media informing and educating the world about it? Through non-sense. That’s right.

I have seen different reports and documentaries about the Palestinians as well as the Israelis, yet if I wasn’t well informed and if I didn’t go to Israel, maybe I wouldn’t even care about it. I would think that this conflict has to do with the random hate Arabs have against Jews, or oil, or because of land, or simply because of terrorism. We are talking about the Middle East anyway ….

My point here is that the news media are doing, have been doing, is to rely on one side, attack one of the sides, which leads to the people to judge. Comments like “Jews are evil,” “The Palestinians are terrorists,” among others are the cruel result of these ridiculous, ignorant, and hatred reports.

It is true that time on television is limited. But it is also true that a news reporter must do his/her job to inform people in seconds. I mean, what else do they go to school for? To learn and do the job right? But maybe it is not the reporter’s fault. Perhaps, maybe the news media need ratings, they need to catch the attention of thousands of viewers, they need controversy and drama in order to keep running the show and that’s why sometimes they need to misinform and brainwash minds of audience members in order to make them dependent and seek more information.

This is how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is happening throughout the news media: “Cut what is boring even if it’s accurate, make one side look bad — we need the ratings.”

Top reasons for Europe refugee surge


These days, an extraordinary influx of European refugees raised worldwide concern. It is reported that the biggest migration of people to the continent since World War II is happening now. The top three reasons that I see are behind this massive immigration are listed below:

First and foremost, the war in Syria accounts for the bulk of immigration. Syria’s war has ground on for four years and so far resulted in 250,000 deaths. The number will continue rising as long as the war does not cease. People are seeking sanctuaries in Europe to escape from deaths.

The second factor that increases the number of refugees is that the route to Europe became a lot easier. After Macedonia imposed harsh measures targeting preventing refugees from entering the country in June, the route through the Balkans opened up. Turkey is next door to Syria, and it is also more easily accessible for people coming from countries farther to the east, including refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan and economic migrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh. The convenience of the route makes the immigrant trip more affordable. Refugees planning to make the immigrant journey say they now need to pay smugglers no more than $2,000 to $3,000 to complete the journey rather than $5000 to $6000 required to reach Libya and take the boat to Italy.

Also, Germany’s extension of welcome to refugees is another important reason that encourages people to set out.

Coverage of ISIS crisis varies by nation


As I was browsing Tumblr, I came upon a post about ISIS and an argument about why the news media only focus on certain topics more than others. We only read what the media wants us to read.

Muath ALKaseasbeh was burned to death and no attention was given to that horrible news. This left me very irritated and astonished. Not enough coverage was made to report the story. No attention was given to this disgusting act of human torturing! Burning someone to death while they are still alive is brutal, cruel and inhumane. Why do so? Why? Do they want to prove a point? Do they have a certain goal? This is not proper Islam. And the act scene in a video does not represent me as a Muslim.

Terrorism is and will never be connected to Islam; Islam is a religion that is specifically known for its generosity and mercy amongst people. Islam was never set to be this way. No religion or belief strives to kill people and torture them brutally.

CNN only presented the main idea of the story but did not specify what really happened and why. Muath ALKaseasbeh is a Jordanian pilot in the Jordanian Air Force who was held hostage by the ISIS group and killed after his plane was crashed due to unknown reasons in Northern Syria.

The crash determined his fate. He was captured and held hostage at the ISIS headquarters till Tuesday where he was filmed to be inside a cage wearing an orange prisoner’s suit. Burned and tortured to death, Muath suffered a painful end and the American media did not do its job to show their interest and concern about this tragedy, as did the Arab world.

This is just one of many stories and news reports the American media kept quiet about and did not raise any concern and awareness. This should not be the case. All news reports should be vital no matter what the subject was. And since there are many Arabic and Middle Eastern tourists and students the media should also require and include Middle Eastern concerns. The media should also include the difference between actual Muslims and terrorists, because ISIS as an Islamic Organization does not represent me as a Muslim nor as an Arab.

Misleading headlines distort coverage


Many misleading headlines have arisen from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

CNN released a story with this headline following an attack on Tuesday titled “4 Israelis, 2 Palestinians killed in synagogue attack, Israeli police say.” Although this headline does not indicate it in any way, the “2 Palestinians” were the terrorists. An update to the headline was no better, referring to an attack on a Jerusalem “mosque” when in fact it was a synagogue.

This follows a report last month by the Associated Press given the headline “Israeli police shoot man in east Jerusalem.” From this headline only, one would infer that the Israeli police were the aggressors and the man the victim when in fact the roles were opposite. From the story you learn that Israeli police shot a man who slammed his car into a crowd of people waiting at a train stop in an act of suspected terrorism and tried to run.

Misleading headlines, such as these, are dangerous. Many people gather news simply by reading headlines, and while the habit is not ideal, it is a fact of which journalists need to be mindful.

For another thing, studies have shown that the initial perception formed in a reader’s mind by the headline will taint his/her interpretation of the entire story that follows.

I’m not suggesting every headline should be full of name-calling, but the perpetrator-victim relationship must not be distorted, whether misrepresented on purpose or not, as this has the potential to vilify innocent people.

The role of the fixer


Amanda Lindhout was a Canadian freelance journalist when she was taken by Islamist insurgents in Somalia around 2008. Daniel Pearl was working for the Wall Street Journal when he was kidnapped by Pakistani militants in 2002 for investigating further into the “shoe-bomber” case. Steven Sotloff was an American freelance journalist when he was taken by ISIL militants in Syria last year.

A lot of the times, we don’t hear about these journalists unfortunately until their deaths or rescues are brought to the forefront. We don’t tend to hear about how the journalists made their way through enemy territories, how they managed to efficiently communicate during their time there, where they found their sources.

At the source of all of this maneuvering, this bribing and threatening, this sneaking around and truth-seeking are the fixers, those who work behind the scenes. In reality, the journalist has a stuntman.

Lindhout, after 15 months of captivity, shared her story with the world in her novel A House in the Sky. In this, she expressed something of concern: the fixer’s tendency to prioritize big-name papers over freelancers. However, she later expressed something of even more concern: the fixer’s deaths going unnoticed.

This week, Ilene Prusher, a multimedia journalist based in Jerusalem, visited the University of Miami to talk about her book: Baghdad Fixer. Journalists like Lindhout and Prusher have acknowledged the sacrifices that fixers make for journalists and essentially, the truth.

Just like the journalist, the fixer pursues the story — many times endangering him or herself and family. Many do not know the story of Yosef Abobaker, Steven Sotloff’s fixer who was also kidnapped on that fateful day and tried his best to save Sotloff. Although Abobaker was released, he was threatened by ISIS. After he was freed, he was never interviewed by any American officials or investigators.

All I propose is that if the world paid more attention to these unknown heroes, a lot more information could be offered up — helping journalists from nations and publications everywhere.

To read the story on Yosef Abobaker:

Journalism becomes propaganda


Across the world in Pakistan, drone attacks are decimating life left and right, leaving numerous people dead, homeless and/or grievously injured. Curiously, these news stories rarely have airtime running longer than a minute and are often relegated to footnote status in newspapers and on news sites.

On Oct. 29, drone victims from Pakistan visited the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C., to speak about the collateral damage inflicted by fighting terrorism. Nabila Rehman, 10, her father and her older brother all came to the U.S. to speak on the behalf of their fellow Pakistanis and obtain answers as to why drone strikes were the most effective method to fighting terrorism when they had a very high cost — people’s lives.

Almost shockingly, their experiences and statements fell on deaf ears with only five of 435 representatives even showing up for their hearing. As the story trickled down, almost no news outlets picked up the narrative.

Comparing this experience to that of Malala Yousafzai, who was brutally shot in the head by a Taliban fighter in 2012, shows that the U.S. cares only for the stories that conveniently line up with its current action plan.

After Yousafzai’s attack and subsequent recovery, the U.S. and Western media applauded her and turned her into the face of what the “anti-Taliban” can accomplish. Oddly enough, when Yousafzai asked President Barack Obama to stop drone attacks, she was immediately reduced to cute, little girl status from her initial framing as a brave woman fighting for freedom and justice.

Both Rehman’s and Yosafzai’s stories have similarities but their paths have been almost exactly perpendicular in nature when it comes to their news media portrayal. Rehman’s story, though equally compelling in nature compared to Yousafzai’s, frames the U.S. in a bad light and in that sense is relegated to the back burner to be picked up by independent news sources.

This is unfair in treatment and goes against some of the most basic ethics of journalism, namely to stay unbiased and report all news fairly. Without remaining cognizant of these tenets news outlets easily fall into becoming propaganda machines for the government.

Focus on the news, not on yourself


As anyone who has been following the news recently knows, the Islamic terrorist group ISIS has been a major focus for the United States. Recently, the U.S. began bombing ISIS and has received help from many other countries including Iran. With all of the commotion surrounding this terrorist group, the common thought should be “what else do we need to do as a country?” Unfortunately, this is not the case.

News organizations from both the right and the left have shifted focus almost entirely on President Obama. It seems that the news has become 10 percent “here is what is happening” and 90 percent “here is how I personally feel about it.”

Of course, there is nothing wrong with seeking professional opinions and expert analysis, but it is ludicrous to have a panel of news anchors that seem to know everything about everything. Too many talking heads simply creates noise and confusion, especially when it is essentially professional complaining.

For situations like this, no abstract examples are needed. No one needs to ask: “Well, what if ISIS somehow found a way to infiltrate the United States and take over the Capitol?” That is thinking infinitely far ahead about an improbable situation.

However, this is not to say that some journalistic opinions can be beneficial. They simply have to have enough respect. In the most famous example, Walter Cronkite stated a negative opinion about the war in Vietnam and changed public opinion about the conflict almost overnight.

Unfortunately, the days of journalists with the respect Cronkite garnered are all but over. If the news is ever going to return to its former glory, the noise needs to be cancelled out. Sensationalism needs to disappear and facts need to once again reign supreme. Until that point, speculation and biased opinion will rule the news.

War without the difficult photos


Come the mid-19th century in America, among all of the social changes, political shifts, and uproars, the first footage of war was recorded. It was the Civil War and the photographs taken began to break down the glorification of all war had been played out to be.

Nowadays, the photo on the front cover of a newspaper can make or break the story during wartime. The American public is a sensitive one and, in turn, the American media is very strict in what it publishes and what it does not.

So, in a war zone where there are almost no limitations to what one can capture, I ask: When is an image considered too gory, insensitive and, to an extent, a breach of privacy? Does holding back this kind of photography blind the American public from the tragedies of war? And is it hard to calculate the photographer’s absence during war?

On Feb. 28, 1991, American photojournalist Kenneth Jarecke stood in front of a horrid sight: a charred man who had been engulfed in flames, trying to escape his vehicle. He snapped the shot. The man was an Iraqi soldier and had fought for Saddam Hussein’s army during the Gulf War when Kuwait was annexed. Time Magazine and The Associated Press dismissed the hypnotizing image, saving Americans from confronting the excruciating brutality of war and ultimately, spitting up their morning coffee.

For Jarecke, who had taken the photo in the midst of endless ceasefire, who had put his life on the line, who had captured the ugly to captivate those sitting pretty, he was left confused. In an interview with The Atlantic, he said: “When you have an image that disproves the myth (of a clean, uncomplicated war), then you think it’s going to be widely published.”

These photos that Jarecke and countless others in countless other wars have taken not only serve the media to inform and to shock, but serve history as a sort of reminder and lesson. And what good is a lesson when you can’t learn from it?

At the same time, however, does the photojournalist go too far sometimes? In this world where tragedies occur in the blink of a second and photographs can be captured in the blink of a millisecond, Jarecke and his contemporaries must grapple with the moral dilemma of: “do I take the picture?” Because to the photojournalist, the moment of hesitation is not due so much to the fact that they’ll worry how the media or audience will react, but instead, due to the fact that they’ll worry how those they are capturing will react. The photojournalist has much at stake here: his reputation, his humanity, his decency, his values, his sanity.

Later, in American Photo magazine, Jarecke wrote: “I wasn’t thinking at all about what was there; if I had thought about how horrific the guy looked I wouldn’t have been able to make the picture.”

To take the photographer out of the battle would surely tell a different story about it. And I can only hope that, one day, the power of photos will stump the power of war.

If your curiosity was piqued, here is the photo that inspired this blog:

Responsibility for rising reporters


Have you ever seen the way a piece of meat is cut? The shredding and vicious motion? It is with great disgust that I parallel that to the tragic decapitation of American-Israeli journalist, Steven Sotloff.

I, along with hundreds of other unprepared Americans, mistakenly clicked that play button on Sept. 2. The memory of it still haunts me.

The horror of it all, the stark reality of the video forced me to take a step back and gather my thoughts: what do I do now?

Three years in at the School of Communication at UM and I feel I am three years too deep to go back. More importantly, I have always known I’ve wanted to be a writer. I’ve always known I’ve wanted to shed light on truth and step out of my comfort zone. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a war correspondent, but I did know I wanted to be an international correspondent. And I’ve always known I’m not the only one.

To the millions of you who are drowning in story leads and paper cuts, who are declared journalism majors and aspiring writers, I ask you: What roles will we play in the war? (Should there still be a war when we’re working journalists, that is).

Will our allegiances lie with the American audience or the global audience? And how will we set our priorities?

Ernie Pyle, a journalist for Scripps Howard during World War II, was assigned six months overseas in North Africa. With the humor of Mark Twain and a voice similar to that of Ernest Hemingway, he wrote personal, relatable columns about the GIs he came to live with. Eventually, he died alongside those GIs after being hit by Japanese machine gun fire.

“The Writing 69th” were the first reporters ever to ride shotgun in a bomber through a bombing raid over Germany during World War II. Robert Post of The New York Times died on that fateful mission.

In more recent news, James Foley and Steven Sotloff were both freelance journalists during the Syrian civil war when they were abducted for ransom and eventually used as chess pieces in an upsetting power play. Pyle, Post, Foley and Sotloff are only four of the hundreds we do or do not know about.

For the longest time, the war correspondent has faced conflicting morals. The question of responsibility in wartime has always lied between wanting to swim against the tide of public opinion and wanting to talk about the heroes and the patriotic highlights.

Now, I believe, that question of responsibility has changed to wanting to find the next big conflict to report to a global audience and wanting to maintain self-preservation and safety.

Julian Reichelt, a freelance writer who was in the same area as Sotloff on the day he was taken in Aleppo, admits that “all journalists in war zones operate on the assumption that bad things are what happens to other people.”

How far will we go anymore and what fuels our crazed quest to throw ourselves into the midst of chaos? More importantly, who are we throwing ourselves in the flames for? The majority of the American reporters in the Middle East today appear to be freelance writers. Is it for their country, or an international audience, or is it perhaps for themselves?

Journalism: One of the most dangerous jobs


What comes to mind when we think about the most dangerous jobs in the world? We may think of firefighters, astronauts, bodyguards, men working for the military or perhaps fishermen, but few of us would believe that journalists face greater dangers for reporting the news.

According to the United Nations, “Journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in the world.”

Journalists go out to the streets to explore and report what is happening. Unfortunately, in this profession, the stories covered may result in kidnapping, assault and even death of journalists and their staff.

Nowadays, journalism is more dangerous than ever. The cruel beheading of South Florida native Steven Satloff and James Foley in Syria are great examples of this risky job. Covering a war is obviously a dangerous task, but being brutally killed in front of a camera just for saying the truth and reporting the news, is unacceptable.

In the recent years, Syria has shown to be the deadliest country for journalists to operate. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 70 other journalists have been killed and more than 80 journalists have been kidnapped in Syria, some of which cases are not publicized. CPJ estimates that approximately 20 journalists are missing in Syria and many journalists are still believed to be kept by the Islamic State.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said “journalists report on human rights violations and bad governance, give voice to the victims and the oppressed, and contribute towards raising awareness of human rights issues, and this service deserves better protection.”

Sadly, journalists have less protection than any other risky job. People don’t realize this until they see innocent journalists that have been arrested, kidnapped or murdered.

In these years, the death of a journalist is usual. Last year, at least three dozen reporters were murdered in their jobs. They didn’t have a uniform or carry a gun, they were simply doing their job; asking questions, looking at records and reporting the truth.

Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Somalia, Brazil, Ukraine and Russia have been considered the most dangerous countries for journalists in the last years.

In 2014, an aggressive fire killed more journalists than American soldiers in Afghanistan. In the same year, three Al-Jazeera journalists were convicted and sentenced to prison for seven years with terrorism-related charges in Egypt.

Another shocking case back in 2001, was Jose Luis Ortega Mata, an editor of a weekly newspaper in Mexico. He wrote an article on drug traffickers funding the election campaigns of Mexican politicians. Too much coincidence that days after his article was released, someone fired two bullets into his head without any reason.

Cases like this occur on a daily basis. Some are published and some are not and it is hard to make justice over these journalist’s deaths.

Reporting requires curiosity, written and verbal communication skills, objectiveness and passion for the truth. But what it mostly requires is courage.

Reporter’s work is to inform the citizens by telling the news, which is the material we use to think about the word’s happenings beyond ourselves. As any other job, journalism doesn’t deserve threatening to those who practice it. Needless to say, people with a journalism profession deserve more protection for informing the world.

Are social media trusted news sources?


I feel like the way that our culture is now, social media are now considered an official news source. Whether screen-shotting a tweet off Twitter or pulling a picture from Instagram, the candidness of these platforms appears to be what the public likes to see.

When was the last time you actually sought out to see a press release, for any recent? Even a news report from a trusted news source. Readers today don’t want to take enough time to read all of that. They want to know what happened in a single picture, or 140 characters or less.

So what does this mean for the future of journalism? Obviously we will always need writers. And as for photographers, a camera phone will never compare to the clarity living inside a Nikon D-5000. But, still, half of the time when something happens in the news, there’s an image of a public figure’s tweet or a video someone took at a moment’s notice.

Maybe writing styles will become more lax, I don’t know, but it’ll be interesting to see in the future how much more accountability that social media holds. We no longer live in an age where we need official reports and public speeches. It’s enough for us to see a picture on a verified social media account and we trust it.

Syrian war turns three — and worsens


The crisis in Syrian, now approaching its third anniversary, is not getting any better, as a village in the central Homs Province was seized by government forces on Saturday.

The village, Zara, is located near the Lebanese border and was previously held by the rebels. After weeks of gruesome fighting, the government has finally gained control.

Control of Zara is important to the Syrian government for the town’s large Sunni Muslim population-as the majority of Sunnis have supported the revolution-and because the town is another gain for the government’s quest to secure the Syria-Lebanon border.

This border is practically nonexistent, however, as Lebanon continues to be pulled into Syria’s war. Lebanese Sunnis and Shiites alike continue to pour into Syria- each fighting for different sides.

The civil war has taken more than 140,000 lives and more continue to be taken every day in battles themselves as well as other terrorist attacks. 2.5 million Syrians have already fled the country.

About 60 miles south of Zara, a town called Yabroud is now being targeted by the government forces. Another town on the edge of the Lebanese border, Yabroud is rebel held and has reported heavy aerial attacks.

Websites push us to ‘pay attention’


With the Olympic Games, world news has attracted a new sort of spotlight. Controversy over South Africa’s gold medal winner Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial has brought  Africa’s trial system into this spotlight and, subsequently, post-apartheid matters and conflict.

This is, by far, minor news compared to stories of dangerous protests and political meltdowns in Venezuela, Ukraine, Syria and Thailand. World news websites explicitly display videos and pictures of beaten protestors and tortured prisoners in an attempt to show, rather than tell, the horrors that are happening in parts of the world most people don’t ever really think about.

This takeover of news websites by world news gives me hope that the world today — all the people, consumed by day-to-day problems like bad drivers, test grades, piles of paperwork or long lines — will, in the midst of all the current international chaos, take a step back and at least acknowledge what is happening around the world.

Living in the United States, we have advantages that other countries don’t have: geographically, most countries have to cross the sea to get to us militarily; and the U.S. holds more than half of the entire world’s military power, keeping us safe and comfortable. Because of our strength and location, most of the younger generation in the United States do not even glance at the conflicts in European, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. The generation of our parents had to face the Cold War, but, as their children, we have not faced the immediate danger of an impending war and have no idea what the terrors of war could be like.

All of the sudden, though, front pages preview all kinds of internationally based stories: death, violence, and dangerous government reform protests in Ukraine, Venezuela, and Syria, Russia’s ‘declaration of war’ on Ukraine, North Korea’s missile launches, terrorist attacks in China, and radical groups dropping bombs in Nigeria. While not all of these attract the same amount of attention, the complete political meltdowns in Ukraine, Venezuela and Syria have attracted the gaze of those distracted American eyes.

Now, several writers on the Internet are calling on us to pay attention and help, saying that now there are so many conflicts that we cannot ignore them — saying that we have to take a stance on what’s happening. I believe that this is a growing trend and it has incredible potential. The younger generation is picking up on these articles and posting them on Facebook for their friends to notice. These articles call for my generation not only to take a stance but also to be passionate about it — to be passionate about it enough to at least educate others about the problem.

One article mentioned how my generation likes to liken itself to the generation of the 1960s, of Woodstock, peace and “flower power.” While we have our own form of Woodstock, while we carry the same “one love” attitude to these festivals, we are not them by any means. ‘They protested the Vietnam war, led a sexual revolution, fought for women’s rights and civil rights and changed the landscape of America for good.

We watch Netflix a lot and claim to be hipsters, but are okay with our alternative culture to be entirely superficial, free of substance or meaning. But we could be true hipsters, if we tried. There’s a lot that should be upsetting enough for us to integrate actual ideals and principles to our way of life beyond wearing boots in 80-degree weather and listening to music that sounds nothing like music.

I have one thing to say to these writers: preach on. Good luck, because in the midst of chaos, someone should be preaching about the problems that the world is facing. Maybe these articles on the Internet have more power than the writers think they do because they push for peaceful action, for standing up for what we say we do and for, at least, knowledge.

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War zones dangerous for journalists


The bodies of two French journalists were returned to France on Tuesday. They had been kidnapped right after conducting an interview on Saturday in Mali.

Both reporters worked for Radio France International and they had been interviewing a Tuareg rebel near the town of Kidal.

Because of France’s decision to intervene in Mali, the French military secured the area around Kidal, which is why it was thought to be safe for the French journalists.

Both were shoved into a car by four men and were found dead soon after.

An Italian journalist was returned home safely recently after being abducted as well.

He is La Stampa’s war correspondent and entered Syria in April. He had been kidnapped for months before finally being released.

It has been reported that Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. The government has expressed their opposition towards professional journalists, citizen and international alike.

According the Committee to Protect Journalists, 32 journalists have been killed and at least 12 abducted in Syria in the past 12 months.

These kinds of things happen all the time with journalists. War zones are an extremely dangerous place in general, but journalists are at times targets. This can be traced back throughout history and it only seems to get worse.

With this being said, why do journalists continue to go overseas to these overly dangerous areas?

It is simply this: the world deserves to know what is going on in these war zones and it is a journalist’s job to do so.

Personally, I don’t know how these reporters do it though. I don’t think I could ever have the courage to do so.

Being that I would like to become a photographer after college, I have been asked if I would be interested in doing war photography. The answer is no because of these tragedies that occur in these countries with internal conflict.

Journalists have to be strong people in order to report about things of this nature, but actually having to go to the place and live there for long amounts of time in order to get the story takes a large amount of bravery.

I look up to the photographers who go over to these zones of conflict and take pictures of what’s going on and I have nothing but respect for the ones who have lost their lives.