Editorial: Enough

This orgy of violence against journalists has to stop. If nothing else, it has revealed the Islamic terrorists for what they are, which is not interested in helping the people of Iraq, Syria or anywhere else.

Steven Sotloff was busy working to understand and convey the seemingly intractable problems in the Middle East when he was kidnapped in Syria last year and ultimately murdered last week by ISIS/ISIL terrorists.

Murdering journalists is a way to make sure that nobody’s story gets told except through the relevant propaganda filter, which is apparently the goal of these fanatics, a goal that must be thwarted.

“Killing journalists will not silence the truth about what is happening now at the hands of the Islamic State,” said Jeff Shell, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. government-backed media outlets in the Middle East and elsewhere. “Information warfare should not be fought with innocent lives.”

Journalists must continue to try to shed light on the factors that produce such hate and violence, though we could not blame those who decide the personal cost is too high a price to pay.

“Steven Sotloff was a man of enormous courage and decency,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said. “Through his journalism, he demonstrated deep personal compassion toward the Middle East and its people. He hoped to shine a light on both the good and the bad of the region—to show the world the dramatic potential of its people as well as the stark forces of evil holding them back.”

We saw a tweet last week—before the news of Sotloff’s murder broke— that suggested buying your local “combat journalist” a drink to thank him or her for risking their life, which is the potential price for trying to keep violence and oppression from being a cancer that is allowed to grow in the shadows.

The murder of freelancer James Foley two weeks ago by the same group prompted this observation in a blog on the Committee to Protect Journalists site: “Foley said he kept returning to the front lines to follow [Marie] Colvin’s exhortation to bear witness, but he went beyond observing. He helped. After documenting the toll taken on civilians, particularly children, by the fighting in Aleppo [Syria] in GlobalPost, Foley launched a campaign to raise money for the hospital he had filmed.” Marie Colvin was the Sunday Times reporter killed while covering Syria in 2012.

We can’t buy all these journalists a drink, but we toast their bravery and determination to push the story—and therefore, potential understanding or, better yet, peace—forward. We grieve with the families of those who paid the ultimate price for wanting to bear witness and make a difference.