Robert Leger, SPJ President-Elect, 417/836-1113 or firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists this evening is mourning the loss of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
State Department officials confirmed today that Pearl, who was taken hostage a month ago by Islamic extremists in Pakistan, is dead. Officials said they confirmed Pearl’s death through evidence received at the U.S. embassy in Pakistan.
“We are heartbroken by this news,” said SPJ President-Elect Robert Leger, editorial page editor at The Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. “It is a grim reminder that the practice of journalism, of obtaining and disseminating information that Americans need, can be dangerous. It is not just soldiers who risk their lives in the defense of freedom.”
SPJ issued a news release earlier this month urging Pearl’s kidnappers to release him safely and immediately to his wife, who is expecting their first child. SPJ argued, as did numerous other media organizations, that Pearl – like all other American journalists – had no ties to the U.S. government and that killing Pearl would do nothing to further the extremists’ cause.
“Killing Mr. Pearl accomplished nothing for his kidnappers,” Leger said. “It only turned the world further against them.”
Leger also asked media outlets worldwide to allow Pearl's family and colleagues the time and space they need to grieve.
“We join our colleagues at the Wall Street Journal, and Mr. Pearl’s family, in grieving his death," Leger said. “We urge other journalists to adhere to the tenet of SPJ’s Ethics Code that calls for sensitivity to those affected by tragedy or grief.”
The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The organization is the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.