The murder of Dom Phillips in Brazil shows the danger of environmental journalism – Low Calorie Diets Tips

Journalism is not usually considered a dangerous profession. Sure, there are romanticized depictions of war correspondents and brave reporters, photographers and videographers venturing deep into areas of political and civil unrest, ultra-corrupt countries and natural disasters. But the public, by and large, isn’t worried about other reporters.

And yet the disappearance and alleged murder of intrepid British journalist Dom Phillips this month in Brazil’s Javari Valley casts a grim spotlight on the lesser-known but equally chilling dangers of environmental reporting.

Reporting on the environment is one of the most dangerous jobs in journalism.

Reporting on the environment is one of the most dangerous jobs in journalism.

In Phillips’ case, police say, the veteran journalist, who has worked for news organizations like The Guardian and The Washington Post, was struck by tragedy in a rainforest region plagued by illegal fishing, poaching and other environmental crimes. Currently, reports suggest that Phillips may have been killed over an illegal fishing conflict on an indigenous reserve on the Colombia-Peru border. Police have so far tried to downplay links to organized crime, although Indigenous activists in the area remain skeptical.

As part of my research on how journalists can more effectively cover international environmental issues, I interviewed environmental reporters whose work has made them the target of physical, legal, economic and psychological attacks – including journalists jailed in Liberia, sued in India and harassed and exiled to Nigeria and was physically assaulted in Egypt.

The attacks prompted some to change careers. For others, the attacks reinforced their sense of mission and reaffirmed their commitment to journalism’s guardian role. Either way, many suffer from long-term psychological consequences, such as depression and substance abuse.

Globally, most reported incidents — like the Phillips assassination — occur in less developed countries in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. This means that journalists investigating environmental issues are at particular risk in remote areas, out of sight of major news outlets.

“In these places, in these countries, much of the money and wealth is associated with natural resources, so covering mining, exploitation, extraction and even trading in natural resources covers very large sums of money and important and significant businesses and finances interests,” executive director Meaghan Parker of the Society of Environmental Journalists told me recently.

“Many have poor or unclear governance related to natural resource stewardship and enforcement or non-enforcement of laws affecting natural resources,” Parker said.

And Phillips’ assassination is just the latest in a series of anti-journalist actions specifically in Brazil.

Phillips’ assassination is just the latest in a series of anti-journalist actions specifically in Brazil.

Just two months earlier, the Brazilian subsidiary of British mining company Brazil Iron called police to accuse journalists Daniel Camargos and Fernando Martinho of trespassing when they visited the company to comment on the impact of mining activities on local communities. According to the Committee to Project Journalists, a press rights advocacy group, the couple were held at a police station for about an hour and then released without charge.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Dutch journalist Bram Ebus was arrested and interrogated by the National Guard and military intelligence in Venezuela while investigating illegal mining in indigenous communities there. In Guatemala, police raided a news agency and the homes of journalists and harassed reporters covering protests against mining operations at a nickel processing plant, news reports said.

In Africa, SPIEGEL correspondent Bartholomaeus Grill and a Swedish freelance photographer were arrested by villagers and police and threatened by a rhino poacher in Mozambique.

Journalists covering environmental controversies in developed countries are also targets, as in Finland, where journalists cited environmental issues – along with immigration, racism, religion and gender equality – as “triggering issues generating threats and harassment”.

Journalists in the US and Canada are not immune either.

Several US reporters were arrested while covering protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, as were Canadian journalists covering demonstrations against hydraulic fracturing near First Nations land in New Brunswick and a controversial hydroelectric project in Labrador.

In my view, there are two main reasons why environmental journalists are being targeted. Both reflect greed – greed for money and greed for power – at the expense of the environment and the common good.

As the Committee to Protect Journalists’ most recent annual Global Impunity Index found, “No one has been held accountable for 81% of the murders of journalists over the past 10 years.”

First, environmental controversies often involve closely related business and political interests, corruption, and criminal behavior such as illegal mining, logging, and poaching. These stories also fall into the portfolios of business, crime, and corruption reporters.

Many of these issues involve conflicts over environmental injustice, social and economic inequalities, and indigenous people’s rights to natural resources and land—in other words, the powerful exploit the powerless.

Second, those who attack environmental journalists, particularly physically through kidnapping, assault and murder, act largely without accountability and with little reason to fear punishment.

As the Committee to Protect Journalists’ most recent annual Global Impunity Index found, “No one has been held accountable for 81% of the murders of journalists over the past 10 years.”

Both history and current events show that those responsible are unlikely to be arrested, let alone convicted and imprisoned, for their crimes against journalists. In fact, law enforcement and government officials are often in league with civilians, crime gangs, and corporations that are responsible for some of these atrocities.

As Parker put it, “When you threaten money and power in a place of poor governance, you are taking a great risk.”

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