Reporter slammed for posing with a gun in Peshmerga photograph
An actual Peshmerga fighter (AFP / File)
“Terror on the Tigris,” reads the Mail on Sunday splash headline. “A gripping dispatch from our reporter, a captured jihadi rifle in his hands, as he’s shelled with Kurdish Black Tigers”.
In the course of the report – published in the popular British tabloid yesterday – correspondent Mark Nicol describes his experience with Kurdish Peshmerga forces in their fight against Daesh (ISIS) in northern Iraq. He features, too, in the accompanying pictures – holding a rifle reportedly taken from a killed Daesh fighter.
And it’s this that has enraged other foreign correspondents.
Journalists expressed fury at the photo and article, which they said potentially and recklessly endangered the lives of other reporters in the region.
— Brian Whitaker (@Brian_Whit) 22 August 2016
In the conflict-ridden and tense circumstances of the Middle East, journalists are often at serious risk. Sometimes they’re caught in the crossfire, but many groups also view those reporting on conflict as partisan players taking sides in a war – and thus fair game for violent targeting. Journalists might be accused of being spies or even militants to justify attacks on them.
Posing with a gun in a major newspaper only gives weight to the kind of accusations that make life much harder for journalists working in conflict zones. It’s a point that Nicol himself was quick to agree to after being confronted online.
Some critics congratulated their colleague for owning up to his mistake. But they pointed out that the editors of the newspaper were probably the ones who were really to blame. Whether there’ll be an apology in next week’s Mail on Sunday remains to be seen.