Perspectives

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Reporter Security is an Issue Both Abroad and At Home

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Award-winning journalist and former Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander just finished co-authoring an in-depth report for National Public Radio about the death of two of its journalists in Afghanistan in June.

He is a strong proponent of increased security measures for reporters in a world ravaged with wars and terrorism. He also promotes improved security for reporters being threatened at home in the USA.

Alexander asserts that it is more dangerous today for reporters in conflict areas than ever before. Although technology is a great asset that allows reporters to generate stories instantaneously from around the world, it also creates a major security risk through GPS tracking and hacking opportunities.

Not only can reporters’ locations be pinpointed by terrorists but news sources can often be identified through electronics and then punished by opposing groups.

To counteract the dangers, Alexander proposes several security measures including hiring outside security firms to assist with security and major security training and protocols for both reporters and editors who are working in high risk parts of the globe.

Alexander notes that threats to domestic reporters also are on the rise. He cites several violent incidents during the presidential campaign, especially with supporters of President Donald Trump.

As reporters and the news media are further demonized by government officials, Alexander is fearful that these incidents and threats will escalate. He suggests the use of some of the same security measures domestically that are applied to war zones.

In addition to prevention measures, Alexander notes that often reporters who cover human tragedy and wars suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after their respective assignments. He feels the news organizations should be aware of that possibility and offer “peer to peer” awareness programs to help reporters who may be suffering.