Journalists also killed in action

The violent deaths of three journalists overseas in the past week are a sad reminder of the high price being paid to preserve press freedom.

Acclaimed British documentary maker Tim Hetherington, 40, and American photographer Chris Hondros, 41, died in an explosion in the Libyan city of Misurata. Two other journalists were wounded. On Monday, Salvadoran television cameraman Alfredo Hurtado, 41, was shot to death by suspected gang members.

Film director Tim Hetherington

Two other journalists were killed in the last month in Libya. Mohammed al-Nabbous, who founded online Libya Alhurra TV, was shot in Benghazi, and Ali Hassan al-Jaber, a cameraman with Al-Jazeera, was shot during an ambush near the same city.

They join an honor roll of more than 860 journalists killed over the last two decades, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. While a third died in combat zones or while on other dangerous assignments, the vast majority are believed to have been murdered due to their work.

Often it’s only because journalists like these put themselves in harm’s way that the plight of victims of war and human-rights abuses is brought to light.

Journalists are most effective in open societies where there’s public support for the rule of law. If U.S. policies promoting democracy in other countries are to succeed, it will in large measure be due to the ability of journalists to serve the people’s right to know.