Eli5 how the press/reporters stay safe while openly reporting in war zones?


I know press/reporters aren’t the direct targets of aggressors, and they don’t take up arms, but how do they manage to stay safe while reporting close to the front lines? Why wouldn’t the aggressors target them to reduce reporting of atrocities, if the aggressors are willing to kill anyways?

Edit: thanks for the responses, everyone. I wasn’t aware of how it really is.

In: 108

Other than being marked as noncombatants which *should* discourage enemy combatants from attacking them…

They don’t. They often have escorts that help protect them, but it’s basically like any other soldier. They try really hard not to be in the direction of bullets.

They do not always stay safe. Journalists do die in war, mostly accidentally but sometimes on purpose. News organizations have been equipping journalists with lots of tools to send back live recordings either using the cell phone network or the satellite network. This does mean that news may quickly be sent out of a war zone. But in general journalists have to try to stay safe on their own. They tend to not be right at the fighting and if fighting breaks out around them they take cover where it is safe. It can help attaching themselves to military units as this means the enemy have someone more important to aim at while the journalists get into cover. However other times it is best to stay with the civilians as they are less likely to be targeted. It all depends on what is safest in the situation while still putting the journalist in a position to report back any important news.

>how do they manage to stay safe while reporting close to the front lines?

They try to stay out of active combat areas or at least the direct line of fire. They aren’t always successful – wartime journalists do end up as collateral damage.

>Why wouldn’t the aggressors target them to reduce reporting of atrocities.

It does happen sometimes, but there is a general agreement amongst nations that certain people are off-limits for direct attack – journalists, aid workers, non-combatants, etc. Targetting non-combatants – including journalists – is a war crime. Of course, war crimes are generally only enforceable if you lose…

At the end of it all, it’s just a gentleman’s agreement – I won’t kill your journalists because I don’t want you killing mine.

They often don’t stay safe. 50 – 90 Journalists are killed each year with many more injured.


They don’t always stay safe. Many of them have died over the years. Robert Capa, arguably the most famous war photojournalist of all time, took photos in a number of wars, including WW2 where he landed on Omaha Beach and took 11 very famous photos. He was killed while reporting on the First Indochina War.

If they’re like Bill O’Reilly they’ll not even be in the same country where the war is being fought and just pretend that they were. If they want the “good stuff” then they’ll be right in the thick of it and bullets, artillery shells, bombs, etc don’t care who they are.