Free Amanda Lindhout & Nigel Brennan

July 31, 2009

Two standards for kidnapping

To tell or not to tell.

Two camps of thoughts, but which is the right one for Amanda & Nigel? If we are to take our lead by what is ‘not’ being said or done in this case, the silent camp seems to be the standard to follow. However, with Nigel Brennan’s mother speaking publically for the first time last week, it leads one to believe not even they are privy to any inner negotiations that may, or may not be at work on their behalf. And if no negotiations are going on, if time is just ticking away and Amanda & Nigel are becoming more of a liability with each passing day, it begs the questions:

Are these two going to die in Somalia, are our governments really going to let this happen?

What then could be a solution, and a very quick one, to this terrible situtaion?

The below was published on Monday, June 22, 2009 by The National post.

Happy endings have a way of halting tricky questions in their tracks. No doubt everyone’s happy to hear that another reporter in Afghanistan managed to survive a hostage ordeal that could have ended badly and bloodily. This time, it was New York Times reporter David Rohde, who was kidnapped by the Taliban in November, only almost no-one outside media circles knew that till he escaped Friday. That’s because the media deliberately kept Rohde’s kidnapping a secret.

“From the early days of this ordeal, the prevailing view among David’s family, experts in kidnapping cases, officials of several government and others we consulted was that going public could increase the danger,” Bill Keller, the Times’ executive editor, explained. “We decided to respect that advice … and a number of other news organizations that learned of David’s plight have done the same. We are enormously grateful for their support.”

Since Rohde survived, everything done to secure his release – including the widespread efforts to hide the news of his abduction – seems irresistibly reasonable in retrospect. With a different, unhappier ending, would we be as cool with the media decision to consciously suppress the story? Videos sent by his kidnappers to various Arab TV networks, presumably making demands were, according to reports, “not given extended air play at the urging of the Times.” (One blogger noticed back in February that Rohde had been missing, and discovered the truth about his abduction, but other reporters told him there was nothing he or they could do about it, given the decision by all editors to censor the story). CBC reporter, Melissa Fung, benefited from the same media blackout last fall.

When news organizations aren’t directly impacted by hostage takings, they tend to play by different rules: The kidnapping of Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay in Niger last year earned plenty of news coverage, as has unaffiliated freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout’s plight in Somalia, and freelance journalist Beverly Giesbrecht in Pakistan (both of whom remain in custody). Interestingly, newspapers have felt liberated to reveal the tale of Rohde’s kidnapping, along with his fixer and driver, now that the American reporter is free, even though one member of the group still remains held in the Taliban compound.

There can be little question that reporters are getting special treatment. But if we agree on that, we might do ourselves the favour of being reflective enough to ask why. The Toronto Star’s public editor several months ago recalled how that paper – which participated in the cover-up of Melissa Fung’s kidnapping – had to ignore pleas from the family of Je Yell Kim not to report on his capture in North Korea because “the incarceration of a Canadian by a foreign government was an issue of important public interest in Canada. So, too, was the question of what Canadian authorities were doing to secure his release.”

In that case, things turned out fine. They don’t always. It’s impossible to tell how much the glare of media coverage has influenced a kidnapper to do something he otherwise mightn’t have, but it’s safe to say that an increased profile of a hostage situation must have a kind of Observer Effect on the actors.

The conspiracy by media to gag kidnapping stories of reporters abroad may have saved Rohde’s life, and Fung’s too. If so, great. Perhaps it had no effect on the outcome at all. This is something we’ll never know. But one thing we might be able to know, if we dared to ask it of ourselves, is why different rules were apparently applied to Rohde and Fung than to Giesbrecht, Lindhout, and others. If a New York Times or CBC reporter’s life was sufficiently worth guarding as to sacrifice the kind of high-minded, self-ascribed newsroom principles given by the Star to Je Yell Kim’s family, surely others’ lives are, too.

Source: National Post

3 Comments »

  1. Congrtas! Nice blog..with interesting topics..and if this news..are real..o my God!..than no comment..smiles..Keep it like this..great blog..

    Comment by dyeve — August 27, 2009 @ 08:31 | Reply

  2. it is absolutely ridiculous that we can’t get all these indivuals freed…this should not be happening…

    Comment by John Conshafter — August 27, 2009 @ 21:11 | Reply

  3. nice blog but do you actually not understand the difference? Agency reporters have Kidnap & Ransom Insurance so the insurance company wanting to minimize costs kicks into action, hires professionals, pays the money and gets the job done with the minimum of fuss (coz they don’t want to be sued)
    Amanda and Nigel have no KRI so it is down to the respective governments who in fairness have done an amazing job; they have had 30 people working round the clock for a year achieved absolutely nothing but spent 10 times what the kidnappers were demanding to start with.
    its a tricky deal; how do you go about handing over a million bucks, get the hostage and don’t get kidnapped yourself in a place where the full might of the US military has been brought to a halt by kids with RPG’s.
    The only logical solution is for well meaning or self interested politicians to hand over to serious and determined professionals in exactly the same way as the shipping industry does and pay them to get the job done. In the end it is less expensive

    Comment by gerry — September 6, 2009 @ 01:22 | Reply


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