In Libya’s war, journalists themselves become part of the story
According to a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, two journalists have been killed and 36 detained since protests began. Thirteen remained in detention as of Monday.
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After several attempts to enter Libya by way of the Tunisian border, Mr. Peterson finally received a government escort into Tripoli this week. His journey revealed tight government and military control over the towns along the road, including those that security forces were supposed to leave, per UN Resolution 1973, which authorized the foreign air strikes on Libya.Skip to next paragraph
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Other reporters were taken by government officials to the site of Western air strikes and told by Qaddafi loyalists that the strikes were an assassination attempt on Qaddafi.
CPJ reported on March 13 that “foreign journalists have been hampered by pro-Qaddafi forces since fighting began in February…. Libyan authorities had invited international journalists to report from the capital, but pro-Qaddafi forces have constantly hampered their work.”
In western Libya, journalists have often had few options other than to go along with government officials. But some media outlets have been criticized for doing so. On March 22, Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that Qaddafi’s forces had averted air strikes by using CNN and Reuters journalists as human shields, perhaps implying that CNN and Reuters had some hand in influencing events.
The CNN and Reuters journalists were accompanied by Libyan officials to a military compound, where they were shown damage from Western air strikes, Ms. Griffin reported. While CNN didn't deny that visit, they fiercely denied the possibility that their 20-minute tour could have been enough time to use them as human shields. Correspondent Nic Robertson in Libya:
"To say it was a human shield is nuts," Robertson said, later adding: "I expect lies from the government here. I don't expect it from other journalists. It's frankly incredibly disappointing."
CNN also responded that a representative of Fox News – although a security guard, not a news crew member – had been on the tour, with a camera. Fox News later appended a correction to its initial report.
The US State Department has repeatedly urged journalists operating in the country to be cautious, and the Associated Press reported this weekend that State recommended that news organizations stop sending journalists into the country.