November 30, 2022

Weighing Risk When the Reporting Is Dangerous

2 min read


Risks, however, can sometimes be more hidden or specific to an individual. Mr Wilson said his team had plans for him. The three main risk areas are often used as markers for response.

One is when a journalist is targeted and threatened. The second is when a journalist is assigned to a chaotic country, such as Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban last summer, or now in parts of Ukraine. The second is when a journalist is working on a sensitive subject and the government, or a powerful group of people, may be unhappy with the subject of the investigation.

In Afghanistan last summer, it was not just journalists who were at risk. Translators, staff members and other Afghans who helped The Times have faced retaliation from the Taliban for their affiliation with a Western news agency. The Times helped him and his family – hundreds of people in total – Flee the country.

One morning in August 2021, Steven McElroy, executive director of Newsroom Operations, received a call from the Times leadership asking them to help resettle the group from Afghanistan. The Times has found temporary shelters in Houston and Mexico City, where about 200 people have passed or are living. The resettlement process is under way, and Mr. McElroy said he is traveling between New York and the two cities, working with the Times teams to help families.

“We’re not going to let anyone down,” said Mr McElroy.

Whether it’s the safety of a group of several hundred or an individual, The Times weighs all potential risks on the same scale. In Russia, the new legislation does not pose a direct threat of casualties, but also the risk of failure to report – and up to 15 years in prison. The Times reporter left the Moscow bureau safely. Mr Troianovski is currently reporting from Istanbul, relying on sources living in Russia and taking steps to protect his identity if necessary.

The Times still has an office in Moscow, and hopes to return to reporting from Russia when it is safe to do so. As in Afghanistan, and now in Ukraine, reporters themselves want to come to the fore to cover the news.

“We need to balance our journalistic mission against security risks,” said Mr Slackman. “Our job is to cover the world. To cover the world, you have to be there.



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