Their capture and Foley’s apparent execution raise fresh questions about how important conflicts across the globe are covered — and the dangers freelance journalists, eager for bylines, face to report them. The Committee to Protect Journalists called Syria, for example, “the most dangerous country in the world for journalists.” According to the organization’s most recent statistics, 69 journalists have been killed covering the Syrian conflict, many of them Syrian. More than 80 reporters have been kidnapped. Around 20 are currently missing, many of whom are believed to be held by the Islamic State.
“Missing from the statistics is anything about the kind of journalists who goes to Syria and why,” journalist James Harkin, who covered Syria as a freelancer, wrote in Vanity Fair earlier this year. “After the death of Marie Colvin, in a blizzard of Syrian Army shells in Homs in February 2012, much of the Western media drew back from covering the country. Meanwhile, a lightly resourced, laughably paid, almost wholly uninsured cadre of freelancers, often armed with little more than a notebook and a mobile phone, infiltrated Syria anyway.”The Committee to Protect Journalists lists the 20 countries where the most journalists have died since 1992: