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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Iraq reporters 'face danger daily'
A soldier stands guard in Iraq
Military guards are a major part of everyday life in Iraq
The death of two journalists in Iraq has focused minds on the safety of those reporting from the country.

CBS cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman James Brolan were killed in a bomb attack, while correspondent Kimberly Dozier was seriously injured.

The role of western reporters in Iraq has been a matter of recent debate, with former BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar raising doubts about the reliability of news from the country.

But the work being done by journalists in Iraq has been defended by the BBC's world news editor Jon Williams.

Tonight - after a gap of 15 years, the BBC is reopening its bureau in Beirut. Two decades ago, the Lebanese capital was the scene of car bombs and kidnappings - all too frequently, journalists were seen as targets. Throughout the civil war, the BBC maintained its presence in Beirut, to bring the story to audiences in the UK and around the world.

Jon Williams, the BBC's world news editor
The BBC's world news editor has defended journalists working in Iraq
Twenty years on, the BBC is now alone among British broadcasters in staying on in Baghdad - despite the kidnappings and car bombs in the Iraqi capital. Once again, journalists are targets. The tragic deaths of our colleagues from CBS brings to 20 the number of journalists killed in Iraq in the first five months of 2006.

Thirty years ago, Jim Muir was one of those brave hacks venturing into Beirut. Today he is one of our regulars in Baghdad. The reason is the same; a belief that the story is too important for us to turn our back on; that we have a responsibility to our audiences to explain the context -- a context we can only reflect by being there.

I'll admit to a sense of frustration sometimes, that people like Andrew North and the other colleagues who work in Baghdad, don't always get the credit they deserve for working in the most difficult conditions imaginable.

Contrary to what some in the TV industry might have you believe, they don't "cower" inside the Green Zone, chained to the roof of the bureau merely repeating copy churned out by news agencies. Every day our team in Baghdad ventures out of our fortified street on the opposite side of the river from the Green Zone - and we spend as much time talking through the logistics of doing so, as we do the editorial focus of the story.

For someone like me, the safety of our team in Baghdad (and the world's other trouble spots) is the biggest single responsibility of the job. At any one time, the BBC has three security staff based in Baghdad. Their job is to enable us to get out and get the story. They do it remarkably successfully - whether it's reporting the daily toll of casualties, or the politicians'' attempts to restore order in Baghdad and beyond. We keep the situation under constant review - balancing the risk of the security situation, with our ability to tell the story.

The deaths of the CBS crew, Paul Douglas and James Brolan, are a reminder of the dangers our colleagues face every day. The injury to correspondent Kimberley Dozier comes just a few months after our friend Bob Woodruff from ABC News was also badly wounded alongside his cameraman, Doug Vog, both of whom are now recovering.

Everyone from the BBC who goes to Baghdad is a volunteer - no-one is forced to work in Iraq. They go because they believe the story is important and needs telling to our audiences in Britain and beyond. And I'm enormously proud of them.



SEE ALSO
TV crew killed in Baghdad attack
30 May 06 |  Middle East

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