A military video showing the 2007 slaying of over a dozen people in Iraq — including two Reuters staffers – was released this week.
Reuters had long sought the release of the video, but were unsuccessful until the Web site Wikileaks managed to obtain the footage.
Here’s an email from Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger about the tape:
The video of our colleagues, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, being killed in Iraq in 2007 was difficult and disturbing to watch but also important to watch.
There is no better evidence of the dangers each and every journalist in a war zone faces at any time. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the men and women of Reuters news who put themselves on the front line to tell the story; we mourn and remember each of our colleagues who has died – our books of remembrance that we keep in our main offices are grim reminders of the sacrifices too many have made over the many decades and many conflicts.
It is impossible to watch and listen to the video dispassionately. I struggle with my emotions the way I’m sure many of you struggle as well.
I believe that we as an organization and I as an individual must fight for journalists’ safety. I will continue to campaign for better training for the military – to help as much as possible to teach the difference in form between a camera and an rpg or between a tripod and a weapon. I will continue to press for thorough and objective investigations. I will continue to insist that governments the world over recognize the rights of journalists to do their jobs. I will continue to ensure that our rules and operating procedures are the safest in the industry.
In this particular case, Tom Glocer and I want to meet with the Pentagon to press the need to learn lessons from this tragedy.
These stories are not easy for us to report or to be involved in. They test our commitment to viewing events and actions objectively.
What matters in the end is not how we as colleagues and friends feel; what matters is the wider public debate that our stories and this video provoke.