‘A DAY WITHOUT NEWS’ DAY: A MINUTE SILENCE FOR OUR FALLEN HEROES

‘A DAY WITHOUT NEWS’ DAY: A MINUTE
SILENCE FOR OUR FALLEN HEROES

“My
family is so deeply appreciative of the efforts of the ‘A Day Without News’
campaign, for raising awareness not only of my sister’s murder at the hands of
the Syrian government but of the growing numbers of journalists and
photographers who are targeted in war zones throughout the world every day. I
am particularly touched that February 22nd, the anniversary of
Marie’s death, would be selected as the day to launch this critically important
effort.”

Cat Colvin (Late Marie Colvin’s Sister)

“It’s
really important to show the world not as we imagine it but the world as it is:
beautiful, amazing but so, so vicious. And photographers and journalists do
this every day, every hour. Some of them die for this. We have to make the
general public sensitive to the importance of the press. One year ago, on
February 22nd, Rémi Ochlik died in Syria doing his job, and because
he was doing his job, he was targeted, and still, nobody has been accused or
arrested. The murder of journalists and photographers carries on with impunity.
Rémi Ochlik’s family and I are really touched by the ‘A Day Without News’
campaign, we support this project because we want reporters to go everywhere,
and especially we need them to come back safe and sound to continue their
work.”

Emilie Blachere (Late Rémi Ochlik’s girlfriend)
Annually,
February 22nd is observed all over the world as ‘A Day Without News
Day’, it is a day set aside to remind the world about the journalists and
photographers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
According
to the information from adaywithoutnews.com; the purposes of the campaign are:

v To
draw sharper attention to the growing numbers of journalists who have been
killed and injured in armed conflict, in some cases as a result of direct
targeting by the belligerents;
v To
develop a public diplomacy, institutional and legal agenda to combat this more
effectively; and
v To
investigate and collect evidence in support of prosecutable cases in this area.
(Source: adaywithoutnews.com)
The Stories Are Pathetic
Regrettably,
as the old adage goes, the first casualty of war is truth’; is the second
casualty the truth-teller? In the battle to win the “hearts and minds” of the
public, the media and its “ground troops” – the reporters who cover the news
are taking greater risks than ever before to bring the news home, “live” and in
“real time”. Many are maimed physically or psychologically, or both. Others
die.  
Recent
conflicts bear this out. During four weeks of fighting in Iraq, 15 journalists
and media workers died and two are still missing. Accidents killed some, but
most died in combat. Some years ago, in Afghanistan, eight journalists died in
a two-week time span and at a point in that war, media casualties outnumbered
military deaths.  94 media workers and
journalists died in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Some 60 journalists died during
the Vietnam War and the fighting in Cambodia. (Source: World of Work Magazine
No. 47, June 2003)
Obviously,
the Arab Spring cum civil war in Syria as claimed more lives than we all could
have ever imagined and it is heartbreaking to note that a huge number of these
causalities are journalists and other media practitioners. Marie Colvin,
Rémi
Ochlik
and others have paid the ultimate
prize and a host of others are still missing.

An
article titled, ‘The Dangers of Being a
Journalist: Media insecurity in Bangladesh
’ By ABID AZAD explained in great
details the pitiable situation of things in Bangladesh. Excerpts; ‘Within a
six-month time span, three journalists were killed in Bangladesh, including a
journalist couple. The number of severely injured journalists reached 72, while
35 were assaulted and 43 were gravely threatened in their working field, says a
report prepared by Bangladesh-based human rights watchdog group – Odhikar.
Broadcast journalists Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi were stabbed in their rented
flat in the capital city of Dhaka at around midnight on February 12th.
Journalists in the county are still reeling from the news of their premature
deaths.’ He noted.

‘At
this standstill situation, several journalists’ organizations around the country
are jointly demanding the punishment of the criminals and the safety of
journalists. Amid all the incidents, on June 15th, Jamal Uddin, a
reporter of a local newspaper in Jessore, located in Southwestern Bangladesh,
was brutally killed, allegedly for writing reports against local drug lords.
Media experts assert public awareness is a vital solution to reduce the
problem, alongside the government’s good wishes, which can also bring free press
practices to the country.’  He suggested.

‘Interestingly,
the government always claims that journalists are enjoying their freedom in the
country in spite of such incidents. If journalists are enjoying press freedom,
then why did police personnel beat up three photojournalists of a noted Bengali
daily newspaper in broad daylight on the 26th May of last year?’ He
questioned.

‘What’s
more is that around the same time Abdullah Al Mamun, a district correspondent
of a national newspaper, was attacked by a group of alleged criminals, led by a
nephew of State Minister to Home Affairs Advocate Shamsul Huq Tuku, for
publishing a report on corruption. This is not the end. On the night of May 28th,
a group of 15 to 20 miscreants stabbed two journalists of an online news portal
after storming into their Dhaka office with sharp weapons, iron rods and
sticks.’ (Abid Azad, 2016)

The Way Forward
  • *    Public
    Awareness & Re-orientation- Abid Azad noted that one of the most effective
    ways to combat crime against a free press and ensure press freedom in its
    totality is the massive awareness and the re-orientation of the public. ‘Media experts assert public awareness is a
    vital solution to reduce the problem, alongside the government’s good wishes,
    which can also bring free press practices to the country
    .’ (‘The Dangers of Being a Journalist: Media
    insecurity in Bangladesh
    ’ By ABID AZAD, 2016)
  • *    Strengthen
    Security- Emilie Blachere (Late Rémi Ochlik’s girlfriend) highlighted the
    importance of a free press and she stipulated that the security of the press is
    not negotiable when she stated thus; ‘Rémi
    Ochlik’s family and I are really touched by the ‘A Day Without News’ campaign,
    we support this project because we want reporters to go everywhere, and
    especially we need them to come back safe and sound to continue their work.

    She demanded. The need to provide adequate security cannot be over-emphasized
    because a country where the media and its practitioners cannot discharge their
    statutory obligations is highly vulnerable. Going forward, Governments and the
    international community should ensure that the security of journalists and
    other news agents are prioritized.
  • *    Provision
    of Training Programs- It is refreshing to know that the International
    Federation of Journalists (IFJ), in co-operation with media companies and
    military authorities, has created intensive war preparation training programs for their members and many media unions include the right to safety training in
    their collective agreements. The IFJ and its members have also strongly
    advocated equal benefits for freelancers. Last March, the IFJ, with support
    from the European Union, published a comprehensive and in-depth “survival
    guide” for correspondents covering conflicts. “A Survival Guide for
    Journalists” can be downloaded from the IFJ’s Web site at
    www.ifj.org.
    I would also suggest that media organisations in national levels should be
    mandated to make similar provisions available.
Conclusion
Conclusively,
the ultimate goal is for ‘A Day Without News’ to generate grassroots support
within the community that will further the work of the Committee to Protect
Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and other
invaluable organizations who are dedicated to this issue. ‘A Day Without News’
is working closely with these organizations to ensure that this campaign serves
their missions – hopefully by building public support through publicity;
increasing pressure for change through diplomacy; and facilitating the
identification, investigation and prosecution of war crimes committed against
journalists. (Source: adaywithoutnews.com)

However,
our voices also matters a great deal. We should also ensure that journalist and
other media agents are given all the support they would require in the course
of discharging their duties.
God
Bless Us All


Oluwole Olusanya
Oluwole Olusanya
Oluwole Olusanya is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the fastest-growing lifestyle and entertainment website in the country. He is a banker, writer, blogger, public affairs analyst and a tax consultant. He anchors Trending Topics on SHEFFA where he shares his thoughts and opinions on trending issues. He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom. He has diplomas in Banking and Finance, Investigative Journalism, Creative Writing, and Linguistics from Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland and The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.