The Listening Post

The perilous life of journalists in Iraq

Iraqi journalists are stuck between a rock and a hard place; plus, Thailand, where the media march in step.

Since the US-led invasion in 2003, Iraq has been one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists. According to figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 200 media workers have lost their lives since the fighting began, and Press Freedom day on May 3 was marred by the death of another journalist – Ammar al-Shahbander.

He, along with 17 other victims, died in a car bomb that the armed group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for. Shahbander’s killing was not targeted, but in Iraq rival political factions and ISIL have been blamed for a number of targeted killings and kidnappings of journalists.

Talking us through the story are: Chatham House’s Middle East analyst Tim Eaton; Sadoun Dhamad, an Al-Hurra TV presenter; Abbas Kadhim, a fellow from The Foreign Policy Institute; and Al Jazeera correspondent Imran Khan.

Other media stories on our radar this week: Indian media’s coverage of relief efforts in Nepal has come in for criticism; a Somali radio journalist is the latest media worker to be killed in the country; and 18 months since the launch of Al Jazeera America, its CEO departs the channel.

Thailand’s media under pressure

Thailand made headlines last year when the Thai military, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, took control of the country. The aftermath of the coup has posed some serious challenges for journalists working in Thailand.

The general-turned-prime-minister has lifted martial law, but that has not eased the pressure on journalists. Replacing martial law is something called Article 44, a so-called security law that gives the government sweeping powers to control what it is being reported on the airways.

The Listening Post‘s Meenakshi Ravi reports on the Thai media, the general and the red lines for journalists in the country.

We are closing our show this week with a story that came out of this year’s Pulitzer Awards in the United States. Los Angeles-based newspaper journalist Rob Kuzina won a prize for his reporting on a corrupt school district, but despite his award winning work, Kuzina is no longer in journalism. He works in PR, the better paying, more sustainable option many journalists are opting for nowadays. We asked Kuzina to go back into his old newsroom so he and his former colleagues could walk us through the Pulitzer-winning story and the decision to give up journalism.