David Schlesinger, global managing editor and head of editorial operations for Reuters, has written an Op-Ed in the International Herald Tribune: The reality behind 'Easongate' . He does not believe U.S. troops target journalists on purpose. But he believes that there is a serious problem, which the latest Italian death has tragically underscored. He writes:
My own company, Reuters, has lost three colleagues in Iraq, and each time it has been in an unfortunate encounter with U.S. troops. Do I believe my colleagues were targeted? No. Do I believe that the military and we have done enough to ensure that these horrible accidents won't be repeated? Alas, the answer to that question is no as well.
I don't want the controversy over Eason Jordan's remarks to counteract his important contribution to keeping journalists safe. I want all combatants to recognize the important, objective role journalists play as noncombatants.
I want continued engagement with the Pentagon to minimize the chances of a journalist being killed by U.S. fire again. I want fast, objective investigations into journalists' deaths, so that we all can learn the lessons..
I want never to have to report the death of a colleague from an avoidable accident again.
Claims by Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena that she and her rescuer were deliberately targeted are indeed absurd. The U.S. military may feel that its troops did nothing inappropriate or unexpected given the circumstances. But unfortunately, these journalist deaths are creating growing tensions between global media organizations and the U.S. military. The result is not in the U.S. military's interest, or in U.S. foreign policy interests more broadly. Something needs to be done. Questioning the patriotism of news executives won't make the problem go away.