It is all very well to be able to write books, but can you wiggle your ears?

Dear Greenpeace…

Dear Greenpeace.

Please stop referring to your cameraman Roman Dolgov as a ‘freelance journalist’ who should be treated differently from the others in the group of activists who have been incarcerated in Russia. It’s a line I’ve heard trotted out several times now, and it’s beginning to grate.


Freelance journalists go to dangerous places with a view to offering audiences an impartial view of complicated situations, such as war zones. The job they do is challenging and for the sake of democracy it is important that we fight to help them to do their work.

However, when someone takes payment from one of the main protagonists in the story they’re reporting on, they stop being a journalist. They become a freelance cameraman. Someone commissioned to make a piece from the biased viewpoint of the group employing them. They are employees, and as much a part of the group as everyone else. They should not be offered special dispensation.

Suggesting that someone should be released ahead of the rest of the Greenpeace group on the basis that they had a video camera with them is disingenuous. The cameraman is the entire reason for the trip taking place. The cameraman films the slogan tied to the side of the oil rig, and disseminates that film to the rest of the world.

I have no idea whether or not the activists should be locked up at present, but I know this: the cameraman is as much a part of the group as any other member.

So please stop confusing the word ‘freelance’ and the word ‘independent’. They are completely different concepts, and conveniently muddling them serves to endanger genuine independent journalists all over the world.


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This entry was posted on October 10, 2013 by in General Stuff, media and tagged , , , , , .
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