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Journalism's risks have never been more intense

Our friend Gary Pruitt, the president of the Associated Press, was on a recent Sunday news show and made a few points that in this day of anti-media sentiment are worth noting.

Pruitt naturally emphasized the AP. But what he says can be broadened to include all the Western media. Pruitt appeared on CNN's “Reliable Sources.” What prompted his comments was the beheading of James Foley of the Global Post by an Islamist nicknamed Jihadi John.

“It has been a difficult year, and a more dangerous time for journalists,” Pruitt told host Brian Stelter. “It's the most dangerous we've ever seen it, in part because journalists are being targeted now.

“It wasn't too many years ago that journalists would have emblazoned on their vests – press – or they'd be riding in vehicles that would have 'press' written on the vehicle, to provide a degree of more safety because combatants typically wouldn't target the media.”

Pruitt said the AP had lost 33 journalists in its history, beginning with the Battle of the Little Big Horn (in 1876) and with the latest death about two weeks ago. An AP video journalist, Simone Camilli, was killed Aug. 13 along with a freelance Palestinian translator working with him when ordnance left from Israeli-Hamas fighting exploded as they were reporting on the aftermath of the war in the Gaza Strip.

The excesses of the media are major topics on other TV and radio shows. Gasbags are frequently critical of what this reporter or that photographer did. But some of our colleagues, like Foley, pay the ultimate price in trying to cover the news.