Sources in Iraq
After the recent execution of David Hanes, a humanitarian aid worker from Britain, it is not surprising that journalism within Iraq is a risky endeavor. With the danger of both reporting and becoming a source becoming more highlighted within the country, it is necessary to review why properly sourcing articles and protecting the identity of sources is so important. As we learned within our class, a source is any person, publication, or record that provides resources. Sourcing is extremely important in order to protect both the integrity of the report from outside pressures and manipulations, as well as protecting the journalist from legal disputes. Within class we learned about several different ways of levels of information from sources such as background, deep background, and off the record.
After observing the third extreme act of violence within Iraq by ISIS, the importance of protecting sources anonymity becomes more pronounced and raises questions about journalists safety within Iraq. If journalists safety is threatened within Iraq, what punishment would be threatened against civilians that corroborated with journalists? After reading The People’s Republic of Amnesia, by Louisa Lim, sources that collaborated with journalists inside of a hostile journalist environment have faced repercussions, as discussed within class including one source being imprisoned. It would not be surprising to see sources within Iraq reluctant to help Western journalists, especially after the most recent events.
Since there is so much danger facing sources within Iraq it is important to note how journalists can protect their sources identity. As discussed in class, sources may ask for their identity to be kept confidential or certain information may be released as “off the record” in order to help a journalist without outing a source. Additionally, journalists can help further protect their own sources through careful reporting as Louisa Lim does within the following clip
Within this clip, the reporter is careful to not mention any obvious details such as names or specific temples, but even goes a step further and does not mention entire geographic locations within Tibet. When reporting within Iraq, I would expect journalists to use similar methods that Louisa Lim uses such as purposefully leaving out details that would reveal a source’s identity. The cost of revealing a source’s identity can plainly be reflected in the severe stance taken by ISIS upon western journalists.
After the beheading of David Hanes, there was a large movement by many countries, including the US, Australia, and Great Britain to prevent further growth and movement of ISIS. Some sources such as the NY Times showed the willingness of Arab nations such as the United Arab Emirates to fight ISIS through the air. While it is important to protect sources within a hostile journalism environment, it is important to note that many countries do not condone the efforts of ISIS and reveals that the extreme tactics of ISIS are not approved off. While Iraq remains an unfriendly environment for journalists and their sources, it is reassuring that countries seem to be uniting against violent action ISIS has presented.