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'Bible' for journalists dedicated to eight killed in combat zones

IAN MACDOWALL - Reuters Handbook for Journalists - Butterworth Heinemann - 1992

This guide to editorial style and usage, the “bible” for thousands of journalists, was compiled by Reuters’ revered chief news editor Ian Macdowall (Reuters 1958-1991) whose 33 years as correspondent, sub-editor and editorial executive ended with his sudden death in December 1991. Adapting sheaves of instruction for an audience beyond Reuters was his last journalistic assignment.

The book is dedicated to eight journalists who, in the previous 25 years, had been killed in combat zones in the service of Reuters and Visnews. They were Bruce Piggot and Ron Laramy (Vietnam), Najmul Hassan (Iran), Willie Vicoy (Philippines), Roberto Navas Alvarez (El Salvador), George Semerjian and Khalil Dheini (Lebanon) and John Mathai (Ethiopia).

It includes these instructions on war reporting, as relevant now as then:

Your safety is paramount. You have total discretion not to go into any danger zone, even under escort. While all reporting involves an inevitable element of risk, you must avoid obvious danger and not take unreasonable risks. You may be able to write as good a story at a safe distance as from the front line. No story, and no news picture, is worth a journalist’s life. ■