Inside Out – July 06

What Ron McCullagh didn’t tell you in his moving tribute to Martin Adler is that the British press didn’t even name him when they reported his death. He was a “Swedish cameraman” who was killed on assignment in Mogadishu. That’s all they wrote. British broadcasters were far more responsible and were led by Jon Snow who wrote a piece for the Channel 4 website. But Google Martin Adler’s name now and you will struggle to find stories about his death.

What should the Frontline Club be doing to ensure that his death isn’t yet another example of a freelance journalist who was killed, or more accurately murdered, on assignment and nothing was ever done to pursue his murderers? After all, a known gunman came out of a Mogadishu crowd celebrating what was supposed to be a “peace celebration” and shot Martin Adler in the back. There had to be witnesses. But who will lead the investigation? Who will help when Martin appeared to working alone and wasn’t on assignment for a broadcaster or a film company?

As Richard Sambrook reminded us in his From the Frontline piece last month, “murder accounts for 70% of all the deaths of journalists, and 90% of the killers get away with it” . Sambrook is chairing the international inquiry conducted by the International News Safety Institute into the alarming increase in deaths of journalists around the world. 

Should the Frontline Club itself back an independent investigation into Martin Adler’s murder? Should it try and emulate Project Klebnikov, the “global alliance” of investigative journalists who are independently investigating the murder of Paul Klebnikov, the American editor of the Russian version of Forbes magazine? Two years ago this month, Klebnikov, became the 12th victim of organised attacks on investigative journalists in Russia.

The courage and commitment of the family and friends of James Miller is testimony to what can be accomplished if there is a sustained media and human rights campaign. In April of this year, an inquest jury in London found unanimously that an Israeli soldier had deliberately targeted and murdered him. But until now the Israelis have done nothing and held to their view that there isn’t enough evidence to justify prosecuting the soldier. 

What else can be learned from the death of Martin Adler? Should he have taken this dangerous assignment? Were there any safety practices that he failed to heed? Andrew Kain, the managing director of AKE, said that Martin was among the best trained and most responsible journalists he ever worked with. He also said that he was the most idealistic journalist he’d ever encountered.