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‘A Day Without News?’ campaign launches

‘A Day Without News?’ campaign launches

© Cécile Mella

February 2013

On the first anniversary of the deaths of journalist Marie Colvin and photojournalist Rémi Ochlik in Syria a new campaign – called ‘A Day Without News?’ – has been launched with the aim of focusing attention on, and taking steps to address, the targeting of photojournalists and journalists in armed conflict situations.

The three key objectives of the ‘A Day Without News?’ campaign are:

  • To draw sharper attention to the growing numbers of journalists who have been killed and injured in armed conflict, in some cases as a direct result of targeting.
  • To develop institutional and legal agendas to stop journalists from being targeted.
  • To investigate and collect evidence to support of prosecutions to seek justice for these deaths.

The campaign is being led by Aidan Sullivan (Vice President, Photo Assignments, Editorial Partnerships and Development for Getty Images), who commented: “It is unacceptable that those looking to report objectively from conflict zones around the world are deliberately singled out, targeted and murdered with impunity, with those responsible for their deaths not facing any repercussions. Without these journalists bearing witness, atrocities committed in war would go unremarked and it is an equal cruelty that their deaths go without justice. This is a situation that has to change. We are heading towards a day when it will be too dangerous for journalists to enter into or report from war zones.”

Aidan Sullivan (Vice President, Photo Assignments, Editorial Partnerships and Development for Getty Images), pictured above, is the driving force behind the campaign ‘A Day Without News?’.

Many correspondents, photographers and other media professionals have been targeted by forces when attempting to cover conflicts around the world and, while it is considered a war crime to do so, there has been little to no enforcement of this international human rights law when it comes to journalists. Over the past decade 945 photojournalists and correspondents have been killed while covering conflict zones; 583 of these without any resulting prosecutions as war crimes. Furthermore, 90 journalists were killed while reporting from war zones in 2012 alone, including the high-profile cases of Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik in Homs, Syria, as well as photojournalists Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington in Misrata, Libya, in 2011.

The ‘A Day Without News?’ campaign has received immediate support from UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who has issued a video statement in which he says: “Every journalist killed is a vital voice lost. Every murder represents a day without news, a day when society as a whole is weakened. This is why the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity is so important. Our goal is simple: to ensure that every journalist can do her or his job safely... I welcome this opportunity to raise the flag in support of ‘A Day Without News?’.” You can view the full video statement by Ban Ki-moon by clicking on the banner link on the right hand side of this page.

As well as the endorsement of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the ‘A Day Without News?’ campaign also has a number of high-profile supporters within the media community including legendary photojournalist Don McCullin, Christiane Amanpour (Chief International Correspondent, CNN), photojournalist Brent Stirton (Reportage by Getty Images), Jean-François Leroy (Director, Visa pour l’Image international festival of photojournalism), Jonathan Klein (CEO, Getty Images), Michiel Munneke (Managing Director, World Press Photo), photojournalist Tom Stoddart (Reportage by Getty Images), photojournalist James Nachtwey, photojournalist Lynsey Adarrio and Sir Daniel Bethlehem QC.

Over the course of the next 12 months those behind the campaign say they will continue to meet with governments who have shown interest and support for the campaign in order to push policy and diplomacy to fight against impunity and to partner with educational institutions and NGOs to identify, investigate and ultimately prosecute cases where journalists and media personnel have been targeted and killed.

Rémi Ochlik’s girlfriend, Emilie Blachère (a reporter for Paris Match magazine), commented: “One year ago, on 22 February, 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.”

The ‘A Day Without News?’ website is now live and people are invited to add their names to the growing list of supporters of the initiative. The initiators of the campaign explained: “Through social media and support from colleagues in the media the aim is to spread the campaign virally to as many people as possible to raise awareness of the issues.”

To find out more about the ‘A Day Without News?’ campaign, add your name to support the initiative, or spread the word about the campaign just click on the link to the ‘A Day Without News?’ website on the right hand side of this page. You can also view UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s statement of support for the campaign and the new ‘A Day Without News?’ You Tube channel via the links on the right hand side of this page.