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'Their sacrifices will not be forgotten'

Posted: June 6, 2017 | Tags: journalism

By Jerrel Floyd and Yang Sun

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Photo by Yang Sun, IRW

Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of National Public Radio, delivers the keynote at the annual event honoring fallen journalists.

The murder of journalists throughout the world has become a technique for control, said National Public Radio’s Michael Oreskes at the annual Newseum Journalists Memorial event. 

Forty-eight journalists were killed on the job in 2016, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The Newseum event on June 5 marked the addition of 14 of those names, including NPR photojournalist David Gilkey, and all were recognized for their service. 

On June 5, 2016, Gilkey and his translator, Zabihullah Tamanna, died in a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan.

“He [Gilkey] really didn’t photograph war,” said Oreskes, senior vice president. “He photographed the men and women, soldiers and civilians caught in these wars.”

Jeffrey Herbst, the Newseum’s president and chief executive officer, opened the event, which will add Gilkey’s and Tamanna’s names to a wall listing more than 2,000 fallen journalists’ names. The memorial emphasizes the unprecedented danger reporters face as they seek to provide information. 

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Photo by Yang Sun, IRW

Names of 14 fallen journalists in 2016 are etched on the Journalists Memorial wall, which lists the names of the 2,305 reporters who have died while working since 1837.

“Their sacrifices are extraordinary and will not be forgotten,” Herbst said. 

Twelve of the 14 journalists honored died while reporting on their own countries — including Brazilian journalists João Miranda do Carmo and Sagal Salad Osman, one of few female voices on the radio in Somalia. Others were killed covering wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria. 

“Whether it’s drug, gang and corrupt police in Mexico or the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria, murdering journalists has become a technique of control,” Oreskes said. 

There are powerful organizations and governments killing or threatening journalists to keep them from uncovering the truth, he said. That is why the  journalists honored at the event believed that their mission was to serve the world by helping to gather and spread knowledgeable information, he added. 

“As we re-dedicate this wall by adding their names, we must also re-dedicate ourselves to the cause they died for. Because it is a cause to write, to gather and to distribute the news,” Oreskes said. 

Claudine Kent, Gilkey’s girlfriend, said the event was a great way for the public to celebrate journalists’ work.

“It just honors him and his sacrifice, and brings to the public’s attention his work’s significance,  and the importance of keeping his and others’ work in the public eye,” Kent said.

The Newseum Journalists Memorial is a two-story glass panel at the Pennsylvania Avenue museum in Washington. The panel is etched with the names of 2,305 fallen reporters, photographers, broadcasters and news executives. Names date back to 1837, when Elijah Lovejoy was shot protecting one of his publication’s presses from a pro-slavery mob. Dutch photographer Jeroen Oerlemans, who was shot while covering Libya’s war with ISIS, is the most recent addition. 




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