UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will today unveil a memorial to casualties of war often ignored by the general public: reporters, journalists, photographers and their attendant translators killed whilst working. The memorial, a glass and steel cone atop the new wing of Broadcasting House in Portland Place, will shine a beacon of light into the sky at 10pm every evening.
The International News Safety Institute estimates that two reporters are killed each week. Despite the passing of UN Security Council resolution 1738 in 2006, which demanded an end to attacks on journalists, Reporters Without Borders say that the number of journalists killed has risen 244% in five years, with more than half losing their lives in Iraq. Sobering statistics, considering that the total number of journalists killed during the Second World War was 68.
Like the two BBC journalists, Abdul Samad Rohani and Nasteh Dahir Faraah, killed in Afghanistan and Somalia last week, many of those killed are local reporters employed by Western media companies and sent into areas, particularly in Iraq, where it is too dangerous for foreigners to travel. The ethical implications of sending out reporters into the field, while their counterparts remain in the Green Zone, are complex, an issue the Project for Excellence in Journalism studied in a report last year.
The BBC has published biographies of those killed while working for the Corporation. Former war correspondent (and rumoured to be the next poet laureate) James Fenton has also written a poem to commemorate the dead. The full text can be read here.