By now you've probably heard that BBC correspondent Alan Johnston's kidnappers have videotaped him wearing an explosives vest. His captors have threatened to detonate it, if any attempt is made to rescue him. In a short video, Johnston's kidnappers - a Palestinian splinter group calling itself "Army of Islam" suggest recent negotiations with Hamas were making progress until Hamas threatened force to obtain Johnston's release. Johnston has been held for 105 days, allegedly by the Dogmush clan in Gaza.
All too often, journalists are pawns in a dangerous game. This weekend in Iraq, a female journalist, an activist and a teacher were shot dead. Were any of these murders widely reported? No. One is barely able to process one death before another occurs in such a violent, lawless place. Today an Iraqi television anchorman was among those killed in a bomb blast at a Baghdad hotel.
Freedom of Information Act still threatened in Britain
Meanwhile a Constitutional Affairs Select Committee is urging the British government to scrap its "unnecessary, unpopular and undesirable" reforms of the Freedom of Information Act. Under the proposed changes, an estimated 17,000 requests for information could be refused. This would mean that Members of Parliament, campaign groups and journalists would have to ration requests or risk their inquiries being rejected.
The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, is said to be committed to FOI Act changes to "reduce the burden of administration on civil servants." But critics say the changes are a cynical ploy to undermine the media, as well as opposition MPs who use FOI legislation to help uncover information about the government. The Constitutional Affairs Select Committee concluded there is "no objective evidence that any change is necessary. There is clear evidence that the proposed amendments could be open to manipulation and abuse."