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Sherry Ricchiardi Talks about Journalists in Peril


July 14, 2010

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In a lengthy interview with Carol Polsgrove, Professor Emerita, School of Journalism at IU Bloomington, American Journalism Review correspondent and IUPUI journalism Professor Sherry Ricchiardi discussed her coverage of journalists in peril around the globe and included stories of her own experiences as a war zone reporter.

Twice the winner of the National Press Club’s Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism, Ricchiardi has chronicled the lives of journalists in peril for almost two decades. She travels widely to hold workshops for journalists under the auspices of the State Department and nonprofit organizations.

An excerpt from the interview reads:

Polsgrove: You’ve written quite a bit about the important role that journalists play in American foreign policy by being independent eyes on the ground . . . A reporter I know who’s in Honduras says that what’s happening to journalists in Iran gets a lot of attention, but what happens to journalists in Honduras doesn’t get that attention because the State Department is busy making nice with the new government of Honduras.

Ricchiardi: Why is there so much interest in Afghanistan now when two years ago our soldiers were dying and so were the Afghans, and the media weren’t paying attention. So why now? Well, because Obama came into office and made it a foreign policy priority, and so all of a sudden everybody’s shifting attention. And now why aren’t we hearing about Iraq as much? Because not as many of us are dying there although Iraqis are continuing to die, not from our hands but from the terrorists and the insurgents who are still operating there. So I think there’s something to that – that if it’s not on the American government’s radar the media also look away.

Last October I was at a conference in Madrid to talk about how conflicts have changed and how media coverage of conflicts has changed, and there was a woman, a TV personality in Spain, who was sent to Georgia when the Russians and Georgians were fighting there. She was saying, “My editors didn’t want it.” It didn’t involve Spain.

She was saying the very same thing, that because the Spanish government wasn’t involved there – and all these people were dying, she had personally seen Russians firing on civilians – she personally had witnessed that and reported on it, and she couldn’t get it on the air. She had risked her life to be there and her anger was so strong that day. She said, “I can’t believe my editors – knowing that I was an eyewitness to this killing – did not want it on the air.” I have heard American correspondents make similar statements about risking their lives and having editors show a lack of interest in their work.

To read the complete interview, go to: