James Foley and fellow freelancers: exploited by pared-back media outlets

Martin Chulov writes: For more than three years now, much of what the world has seen, read and learned about the Middle East has been produced by journalism’s newest hands. They are not recruits, in the true sense of the word: few have the endorsement of established media outlets. Even fewer have been sent to the region with budgets, backing, or even basic training.

But from Tunisia to Syria and all stops in between, freelance reporters and photojournalists have reported history with a determination that old media could rarely match, even during the halcyon days when media organisations could afford to maintain correspondents and bureaux around the world.

Libya was a magnet for many freelancers when insurrection broke out in February 2011. Some had covered the tumult next door in Egypt, others were drawn to journalism, wanting to witness the end of Gaddafi’s cult-like state.

As the battle for east Libya ebbed and flowed around the town of Ajdabiya, the freelancers at times outnumbered the anti-Gaddafi rebels on the frontline. Both groups – with a fair few staff reporters among them – would often surge forward together or scamper for safety when regime forces advanced. James Foley was among them. [Continue reading…]

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