A free press is the first casualty of war. Independent national outlets are overrun, threatened or shuttered. Foreign journalists are barred from entry, kidnapped or executed. Local journalists who remain to bear witness in turn bear the brunt. We have seen this and more in Syria.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, of the at least 101 journalists who have been killed there since 2011, 88% were local and 27% were classified as photographers. Many others have been intimidated, abducted, maimed or forced into exile. Foreigners who venture in stick to the Kurdish-controlled territory in the north or are allowed access to government-controlled areas. But the majority of pictures that emerge, especially in opposition-held areas, are from Syrians themselves. Activist media networks tweet pictures of the latest carnage, hoping to reach change-makers. Doctors and nurses send reporters unpublishable images of the latest tragedies to unravel in their emergency rooms using tools like WhatsApp. And much of the imagery that appears in online news, in print and on television is shot by local stringers with international agencies, some working under pseudonyms due to safety concerns. They are the last-ditch effort for independent eyes and ears on the ground.
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