Targeting journalists: Reporting the news can be a dangerous business

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Richard Engel's narrow escape from kidnappers in Syria offers a reminder that journalists often confront real danger in their effort to shine light on the world's dark corners.

NBC News' chief foreign correspondent, and as many as five crew members, were held hostage for five days by an unknown group that claimed loyalty to Syrian President Bashar Assad. They were blindfolded, handcuffed and, Mr. Engel says, subjected to mock executions.

They were rescued when their captors got into a firefight with rebel forces at a checkpoint and were escorted across the Syrian border into Turkey.

The capture and escape of Mr. Engel and his crew are the stuff of drama. But their tale is just one among many: The Committee to Protect Journalists, which promotes freedom of the press and tracks violence against journalists, says 67 people were killed in 2012 reporting from the world's trouble spots.

Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. More than two dozen reporters, photographers, videographers and crew members were killed there in the last year. Somalia, with 12 journalists killed, is the second-most dangerous country for media.

Meanwhile, CPJ says a record 232 journalists are in prisons around the world, a 30 percent increase over 2011. Turkey leads the way with 49 journalists imprisoned, followed by Iran (45), China (32), Eritrea (28) and Syria (15).

Americans don't hear about most of these reporters or crew members, because they don't work for major U.S. and international news outlets. But they deserve to be remembered -- and honored -- by everyone who values freedom and human dignity.


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