CPJ Journalist Security Blog

July 2012 Archives


A memorial for Afghan journalist Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak in Kabul. (AFP/Shah Marai)

One year ago, on July 28, 2011, Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak, 25, was killed by American troops during a brutal close-quarters battle with a Taliban suicide squad backed by gunmen. Khpalwak was one of 22 people killed in the hours-long siege on government buildings that included the governor's office and police headquarters in Tarin Kot, capital of Uruzgan province. A reporter for the BBC, Pajhwok Afghan News, and several other organizations, Khpalwak died with 11 bullet wounds in his body. He was shot in a government-run newsroom while waving his press card and declaring in English that he was a journalist. It's fair to ask, one year after Khpalwak died, if any lessons have been learned. The odds that a journalist could be killed by U.S. forces' fire seem, unfortunately, to be as high as ever.

A TV crew reports on the shooting in Colorado from a parking lot across the street. (AFP/Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)

The rampage inside a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 people and injured dozens more is the most recent reminder that a journalist anywhere can face sudden, great emotional stress. Any story involving tragedy--from domestic violence to natural disasters--can inflict an emotional toll on field journalists. The very empathy that makes a journalist a good storyteller puts him or her at risk.

The Rocinha neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. Such neighborhoods, or favelas, have been risky for reporters. (AP/Felipe Dana)

The jagged mountains ringing Rio de Janeiro descend to a temperate valley with two storied beaches on the Atlantic. Here is the city that gave the world a new, eclectic musical beat with the Bossa Nova, the South American jewel that will host the summer Olympic Games in 2016. Yet Rio has also been the setting for violence against journalists, a trend that is on the upswing again throughout this nation. 

Members of the press get their first look at the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. Security zones have been established outside to ensure people's safety. (AP/Brian Blanco)

If May's NATO Summit in Chicago is any indication, journalists covering events outside the national political conventions in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., later this summer can expect that everyone--mainstream media, bloggers, citizen journalists, protesters, and bystanders--will have a camera of one kind or another. With the widespread proliferation of cellphone cameras, capable of recording high-quality images along with audio and video, it seemed like everybody was documenting everything and everyone.

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