Credits: All from AP - from left: Martin Mejia (Lima 2000), David de la Paz (Mexico City 1999), Jose Luis Magana (Mexico City 1998), Nasser Nasser (Ramallah 2002), Srdjan Ilic (Kosovo 1998) & Nasser Nasser (Ramallah 2000).
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In this section we plan to post comments and advice received from journalists and others about locations they are currently working in or have recently visited, for the benefit of others who may need to work in these places. You will be able to read those comments here and are also invited to send us your own responses, advice and details of your experiences, using our Add Advice facility.

Name: Humberto Márquez Media: IPS
Date received: 16 May 2005

Comment: Bolivia

"Calm before the tempest", probably is the worst common place lying on the desk* of a journalist to express the feeling conveyed by Carlos Mesa´s speech. The President of Bolivia is holding an improvised conference in the Auditorium in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. His speech is flawless.

The Yacaré Mojeño, who live in the Amazonian rain forest by the Ichilo River, explain the journalist their fight for the land where they had been settled since the night of the times. The meeting takes place in the relaxed surrounding of a country resort** . Anacleto Supayabe, their spokesperson, is wearing a White Sox of Chicago baseball cap. But is better not to rely on appearances. He and his people are only gathering forces for the second semester of 2005, when they would go to the streets to demand a Constituent Assembly.

Jorge Prestel, a tall man with a thundering voice, is the President of the cattle owners. He blames the countries of the North for the problems countries like Bolivia are facing. Protectionism is closing markets to imports like cattle or soy beans. At the same time, the Pro Santa Cruz Committee, leaded by businessmen, is promoting Santa Cruz autonomy to plan and manage the province development without La Paz.

Between Santa Cruz and la Paz is located the coca growing area of El Chapare. There the countrymen follow the left leaning leader Evo Morales. When the demonstrators block the roads, exports are interrupted and the anti narcotics elite police group, funded by the US, cannot advance their campaign to destroy coca plantations banned by the DEA.

International meetings avoid La Paz, wheareas for its altitude or its political turmoil, and find a place in Santa Cruz. European journalists looking for strong emotions attend some lethargic conference. But they can be more comforted in the Jesuit Missions from the XVIII Century. Whether the youngest, visit the new attraction, the Che tour, in the Higuera, where Guevara was shot dead.

Santa Cruz, looked with a myriad of eyes, is a well planned city at the western side of the country. Is hot and humid as any other location close to the rainforest. People that walk along with you on the sidewalks could be Bolivian, Central American, perhaps Colombian or Venezuelan. Counseling is heard about special cares, but there is nothing more dangerous there as south Bogotá or Caracas outbound.

Wear casual and light clothes. Or a spring jacket: it could rain or freeze in any minute. It´s fairly easy to change dollars and to pay with. Food is abundant and cheap. Meat is delicious and Bolivian beer is one of the best in the world. One piece of the city is twinkling there in the outdoor restaurants and cafés.

Everything is calm. As if Bolivia weren't´t in the eye of the tempest; the tempest that can shake South America.

* Mesa in Spanish means table.
** in English in the original text.

Un viaje a Santa Cruz no nos hace expertos
Humberto Márquez (*), para el INSI

La “calma que precede a la tempestad” es uno de los más aborrecidos lugares comunes con los que debe lidiar cualquier mesa de redacción, pero es la sensación que transmite Mesa, Carlos, el presidente de Bolivia, mientras improvisa un discurso de ocasión, impecablemente hilvanado, ante un auditorio en Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Indígenas yuracaré-mojeño, que habitan los bosques junto al amazónico río Ichilo, explican al periodista su lucha por derechos sobre las tierras que ocupan desde tiempo inmemorial. La reunión transcurre en el distendidísimo ambiente de un resort campestre. Un portavoz, Anacleto Supayabe luce una gorra de los Medias Blancas de Chicago. Las apariencias engañan: están acumulando fuerzas para cuando en el segundo semestre de 2005, quizás, se lancen al combate callejero por una Constituyente.

Jorge Prestel, un gigantón con voz de trueno que preside la Asociación de Ganaderos, dice que el drama de países como el suyo está en el proteccionismo del Norte, que cierra mercados a rubros que van desde la carne hasta la soya. En paralelo, el Comité Pro Santa Cruz, dirigido por los empresarios, promueve la autonomía para planificar y administrar, sin depender de La Paz, el crecimiento económico de la provincia.

Entre Santa Cruz y La Paz está el Chapare, zona donde se cultiva coca y los campesinos siguen al líder izquierdista Evo Morales. Cuando los manifestantes bloquean las carreteras, se interrumpen las exportaciones hacia el Pacífico y la policía de élite antinarcóticos, auspiciada por Estados Unidos, no puede avanzar en sus campañas para destruir los sembrados de la planta proscrita por la DEA.

Reuniones internacionales que esquivan La Paz, por su altitud o sus borrascas políticas, encuentran espacio en Santa Cruz, en tanto periodistas europeos que buscan emociones fuertes se consuelan, de la cobertura de alguna soporífera conferencia, yendo a visitar, los mayores, las misiones jesuitas del siglo XVIII. Los más jóvenes, el nuevo destino turístico, La Ruta del Ché, que desemboca en La Higuera, donde cayó Guevara.

Santa Cruz, mirada con tan variados ojos, es una bien planificada ciudad del oriente boliviano, calurosa como cualquier emplazamiento de una llanura en el trópico. Gente que camina junto a usted en la acera le puede parecer tan de allí como centroamericana, quizá colombiana o venezolana. Se escuchan consejos sobre inseguridad y cuidados, pero nada parecido al sur de Bogotá o la periferia de Caracas.

A vestir, ropas holgadas y casuales. Una chaqueta ligera: de repente llega un frío o un chubasco. Es fácil cambiar los dólares o pagar con ellos. La comida es abundante y no costosa, la carne de vacuno una delicia, la cerveza boliviana de las mejores el mundo, algún trozo de la ciudad vibra en la noche, cubierto de restaurantes y cafés al aire libre.

Todo como muy en calma. Como si Bolivia no estuviera en el corazón de la tempestad que puede sacudir a Sudamérica. (FIN)

(*) Corresponsal de la agencia IPS en Caracas.


Name: Journalist from Nepal
Date received: 8 February 2005

Comment: Situation in Nepal

Namaste. Thank you very much for the 3-copies of Live News (Survival Guide for Journalists) you sent free-of-charge to me and my organization Nation Weekly. Luckily it arrived just ahead of the current Royal "takeover" by the King in Nepal and it has become very handy in dealing with my reporting assignments under the current circumstances. I have also passed it on to a few of my friends for reading and they all highly value its content.
The media seems to have been most hard hit with blanket censorship imposed by the Royal government after the declaration of emergency. For the first few days since February 1, army personnel were even editing word-to-word news on major publication houses and TV stations. Later, the government issued a notice warning journalists not to go "against the spirit" of the Royal proclamation and not to "demoralize" the security forces fighting the Maoists. A few of the journalists have been arrested and most have gone underground. But worse is that a lot of media houses have chosen to close down rendering hundreds jobless, including me. It is an extremely sad situation here. As I can observe, most are starting to hold a low morale and could take years before we build back up to where we had flourished with democracy. E-mail, internet and telephone services have come to full-fledged operation starting only today. But I am not sure if this is just temporary. But we have chosen to move on together. Thank you for being with us.


Name: William Freear, Managing Director, Pilgrims Special Projects
Date received: 1 February 2005

Comment: Women Reporting War: Equipment

We enjoyed the Women Reporting War debate and learnt things we had not previously considered.

With regard to the point that was brought up about female body armour not being easy to get hold of. We provide bespoke female cut body armour that is covert and graded to level 4 (maximum protection). The female cut is cut specifically to each person requirements.

We provide a sizing chart so that orders can be sized. The costs is £750 for female sets (£650 for male as comes in standard sizes)

We have had excellent feedback from this model and if we can be of any help please don't hesitate to contact us at any time



Name: Sasha Merkushev
Date received: 10 January 2005

Comment: Safety Tips for Iraq

The situation in Iraq is dangerous, no doubt. But unlike many other hotspots, it has its specifics, which any journalist traveling to Iraq should take into account.

The dilemmas that face journalists in what regards safety precautions that they can take are as follows:

  • A flak jacket is known to have saved lives in war. In Iraq, a local journalist found to be wearing one, or even having one in the car, faces the risk of being beheaded as a collaborator - who else would have a $500+ bullet-proof vest? So, would you prefer to be shot and wounded (or killed) when you are without your flak, or beheaded - and shown on TV as an extra bonus?

It goes without saying that foreign reporters are in danger irrespectively of whether they have body armor or not. If you are a foreigner and need to go on an assignment, put on a flak jacket to halve the risk.

  • Communications. Cellphones are now operational in many Iraqi cities, and the rates are not too high, which means it is now safe to own and use a mobile. If you go to places which are not covered by the phone service, you may be asked to take along a Thuraya satphone - think before you use it. Owning a Thuraya phone means only one thing: you work for a foreign (i.e. hostile) company and, therefore, have no right to be in Iraq. See above for possible consequences.

  • Iraqi nationals who go out to report/film stuff know how to take care of themselves and how not to attract attention from either side in the conflict. But nowadays, they wouldn't like reporters, looking 'foreign', join them on trips outside or even inside Baghdad. This effectively means all non-Arab looking journalists are doomed to spend their days inside their often unprotected compounds or hotels.

  • Journalists working in dangerous environments often use large white vehicles, with the huge letters TV or Press painted on them. This is not a good idea in Iraq - such vehicles are called "RPG magnets" here. If you must, ride in an inconspicuous armored car that doesn't stand out. Local reporters prefer taxis or other low-profile vehicles.

  • Photographers and TV folks used to wear green or olive-colored vests with lots of pockets for tapes, lenses, and other stuff. Not any longer - in Iraq, the vest is associated with "contractors", usually defense or security personnel who help the occupation troops.

In brief, if you want to look like a journalist, don't wear those vests, have something casual instead. You don't want insurgents to take you for a CIA agent.

(Visit for more tips)


Name: Claude Collart Media: Jacana Media
Date received: 23 June 2004

Comment: Something to Write Home About
Reflections from the Heart of History
Edited by Claude Collart and Sahm Venter

Something to Write Home About is a collection of more than 90 contributions of prose and poetry, from journalists around the world, all reflections of how they have been moved by events they have covered. Journalists who are encouraged not to let their personal feelings enter their reports, have given us a rare glimpse of the gamut of feelings they experience while doing their jobs.

The contributors - reporters, photographers, television camera operators and producers – represent 25 nationalities and write from more than 40 countries.

Writing in his Foreword to the book Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus said: "This anthology of deeply moving stories reveals that journalists are not callous, hardhearted cynical operatives moving like predators after their prey. They are wonderful sensitive human beings who laugh and cry, who love and hate, who are calm, who are frightened, who are brave and who are sometimes cowardly, but who are ultimately people who care, who care about others and what is done to and for them, who care about our world and hope that they might just have helped to make it a little more hospitable to love and compassion and laughter and who have given their services for free to honour their fallen comrades. They are beautiful people and some of them have touched my life and I am just that bit a better person for that."

The contributors have given their work for free as all royalties will be shared by two very special funds: The Miguel Gil Moreno Foundation and the Kerem Lawton Fund.

Miguel Gil Moreno, an award-winning Spanish-born television cameraman who had given up a career as a corporate lawyer in Barcelona during the Bosnian crisis, traveled to Sarajevo where he offered his assistance to journalists there. He was killed in an ambush in Sierra Leone in 2000 with writer Kurt Schork from Reuters. His family established the Miguel Gil Moreno Foundation which runs an annual award for humanitarian journalism and hopes to raise funds to build an orphanage for girls in Abidjan.

The Kerem Lawton Fund was set up in the name of British-Turkish television producer, Kerem Lawton who was killed in the Balkans in 2001. The Fund was established for Tara Lawton, the daughter and only child of Kerem and his wife Elida Ramadani. Tara who lives with her mother in Kosovo was born three months after her father's death.

Published by Jacana Media, Something to Write Home About was launched in Johannesburg on 3 May, International Media Freedom Day. Edited by South African journalist Sahm Venter and her Belgian journalist husband, Claude Colart, Something to Write Home About is dedicated to journalist friends of theirs who have passed on and are sorely missed. They are Ameen Akhalwaya, Miguel Gil Moreno, Chris Gutuza, Kerem Lawton, Aziz Tassiem and Myles Tierney.

Contributors include: CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Chris Burns and Charlayne Hunter-Gault, BBC’s Fergal Keane, Orla Guerin, Milton Nkosi and Hilary Andersson, Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Greg Marinovich, authors Hamilton Wende and Mike Cadman, SKY News’ Stuart Ramsay, SABC’s head of news Jimi Matthews, award-winning writers Asha Krishnakumar and Elizabeth Rubin, and CNN Free Press Africa Award 2003 winner – Zimbabwean Walter Marwizi

To order a copy of the book send an email to


Name: Abed Omar Qusini Media: Reuters
Date received: 20 April 2004



I am Abed Omar Qusini, Reuters Photographer in Nablus area, I have got this e-mail and I would like to comment on this issue.

The security situation in Nablus is normal. No thing around us here make us thing or be afraid or worry for the safety of the foreign journalists visiting Nablus. I am working in Nablus since 12 years and had worked as a translator or guide for hundreds of journalists in this period and it did not happen at all that any Palestinian faction or individual threaten or attack any foreign journalists. Every day and yesterday particularly we have many foreign journalists working in Nablus and they dont face and problem and some time if there is any misunderstanding with some body we solve it directly.

Good to know that we have in Nablus around 11 Palestinian journalists working with foreign agencies half of them members of the FPA and we have no problem to help any journalist want to come to Nablus to make any story and any one can contact me or the others to be sure about the situation .Every one is welcomed to Nablus, the safe Nablus.

The other thing I want to say here that it is good from the FPA or the Goverment Press Office to inform the journalist about the situation in Nablus or any where and every body apreciate that.

Please feel free or any one to contact me in Nablus to ask about anything in Nablus.

Thanks alot

Abed Omar Qusini


The Government Press office, citing Israeli intelligence sources, has asked us to inform all members that there is credible evidence that foreign journalists, in particular U.S. citizens, may be targeted for attack or kidnap in the Nablus area over the next 72 hours.

The Foreign Press Association would therefore urge all members to be particularly vigilant in this area and advise them to provide colleagues with detailed plans of their itineraries around Nablus in the near future. Please pass this advisory to any other foreign nationals who may be affected.

We would welcome any feedback from contacts and sources in and around Nablus to cast further light on the security situation there.

With best wishes


Name: John Laurence Media:
Date received: 15 April 2004

Comment: IRAQ

Dear Colleagues

I hope everyone concerned about the deaths of the journalists Faleh Khaiber and Taras Protsyuk in Baghdad last year due to American tank fire on the Palestine Hotel read a new book by David Zucchino of the Los Angeles Times called "Thunder Run." The relevant pages are 293-301.

Zucchino, with whom I was embedded during the war, is an honest, experienced journalist with no particular bias that I observed. He has interviewed the 3rd Infantry Division officers, NCOs and enlisted men responsible for the shooting as part of his historical reconstruction of the battle of Baghdad. His account makes it clear that the tank gunner saw the reflection of Taras's camera lens on the balcony of the hotel and fired at what he thought was an Iraqi military forward observer using a long-range telescope or binoculars mounted on a tripod. The shooting took place on April 8th during a heavy firefight across the Jumhuriya Bridge between U.S. tanks and Iraqi troops about one kilometre from the hotel. The account makes clear that those involved in making the decision to shoot at the building (they did not know it was a hotel where journalists were guests because the other side of the river was in territory assigned to US Marines to capture), from the brigade commander on down, were horrified to learn that their actions had caused harm to journalists.

May I suggest that journalists who are faced with the same danger in future (urban warfare around their hotel) try to mark the roof and sides of the upper floors of the buildings with distinctive identification of some kind? In Dacca, East Pakistan, in 1971, we journalists marked the roof of the Intercontinental Hotel with a giant red cross, helpfully provided by the IRC representative there, to warn Indian Air Force pilots not to open fire on us. It worked. Despite heavy bombing of the city, no journalists were killed or wounded.


John Laurence

Name: Conny Mus Media: RTL4 (the Netherlands)
Date received: 5 March 2004

Comment: IRAQ

I spent last year off and on about 4 months in Iraq from the South till the North.

Most important for the moment is to travel and operate in Iraq almost undercover - exposing yourself too much is clearly endangering yourself - no tv signs on your vehicles anymore - try to cover your car windows as such that they cannot see that foreigners are inside - whenever outside get friendly with the people before you start operating - most dangerous are the Ali Baba's, the thiefs the robbers - they are out for your money and equipment and they are armed and crazy enough to shoot and kill - whenever you have to, you give them anything to save your life - do not argue just give and get away alive.

Name: Marc Epstein Media: L'Express newsmagazine (France)
Date received: 10 February 2004


Dear friend,

A petition regarding Khawar Mehdi Rizvi is now circulating. He was my Pakistani guide and translator and is now in prison awaiting his trial. He risks a life sentence. You are invited to check out the web site and sign, if you wish, at

Please forward this message to anyone who believes in the freedom of the press.

Marc Epstein
Tel: (+33.1) 5391 1282

Fax: (+33.1) 5391 1204

Name: Marc Epstein Media: L'Express newsmagazine (France)
Date received: 10 February 2004

Comment: Cher(e) ami(e),

une pétition circule concernant Khawar Mehdi Rizvi, mon guide et interprète au Pakistan. Khawar est actuellement en prison et attend son procès. Il risque la prison à vie. Lisez et signez le texte, si vous le souhaitez,

Mercie de faire suivre ce message à tous ceux qui souteinnent la liberté de la presse.

Marc Epstein
Tel: (+33.1) 5391 1282

Fax: (+33.1) 5391 1204