Interesting piece on the kidnapping of Michael Scott Moore almost two years ago. It raises some important questions about freelancers, war zones, ransoms, negotiations and publicity surrounding such cases.
I’ve always been sceptical that news black-outs are the best way to handle all kidnappings. In at least one case, lack of media attention was taken as proof that the reporter was a spy.
But my biggest concern is the way that the cash-strapped publications – often new and online – with little experience of covering war zones are relying on freelancers to help that punch above their weight.
Freelance reporters, by contrast, are self-employed. They often foot their own travel costs and are uninsured. They take risks on behalf of media companies that want war-zone reporting but aren’t willing to pay for lavish protection.
But from a kidnappers’ perspective, they’ve just scooped up another Westerner—one assumed to have plenty of support back home.