Cover image for Words of fire : independent journalists who challenge dictators, druglords, and other enemies of a free press
Words of fire : independent journalists who challenge dictators, druglords, and other enemies of a free press
Collings, Anthony.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xi, 269 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
"They are the news" : facing Mexican druglords -- She had to be there : taking risks in Russia -- Opening the door : courage in Asia -- Guerrilla journalists : underground in Nigeria -- A precious pen : defiance around the world -- The general's Mercedes : crime and corruption -- A veiled woman : the separatists -- Brother against brother : civil war -- In the thick of it : protests and riots -- Money at stake : economic secrets -- The president's mistress : exposʹes -- We are not amused : satire -- We have ways : violence and imprisonment -- We have other ways : legal and economic pressures -- Chilled or defiant : the painful choice -- Cat and computer mouse : using the internet -- The great firewall : China and the Internet -- Send in Uncle Walter : advocacy groups.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
PN4820 .C65 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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If journalism is the first draft of history, then independent journalists are surely its most daring composers.

Along such celebrated and high-profile figures as Christiane Amanpour and Wolf Blitzer, there exists a stratum of journalistsself-employed, working under dire conditions, and with minimal resourceswho often place themselves at ground zero of world events. In this gripping account, Anthony Collings takes us into the world of independent journalists, and the daily challenges they face confronting dictators, hostile military, and narcoterrorists. Unfettered by any ties to those in positions of power, these guerrilla journalists are often the first on a storywhether reporting on corruption in Mexico, organized crime in Russia, or sexual scandal in the Middle Eastand accordingly face the brunt of their subject's wrath.

Collings, who has himself been held captive while on assignment, here focuses less on those nations in which the press is either largely free (such as the U.S. or Western European democracies) or aggressively restricted (as in China), and more on those "battleground countries" where the eventual outcome of the struggle between state and fourth estate remains unclear. Relying on interviews, professional contacts, and his own experiences, Collings explores the dilemmas and strategies of journalists who persevere in the face of war, repressive governments, and criminal aggression, with particular emphasis on the role of the Internet.

At a time when journalism is increasingly a profession under siege, Words of Fire forces into the spotlight a more positive side of the profession, those who pursue journalism not for profit or fame but as a personal crusade.

Author Notes

Newsweek's former London and Bonn bureau chief and previously a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Anthony Collings came to the University of Michigan as the Howard R. Marsh Professor of Journalism and now teaches in the Department of Communication Studies. Captured and held at gunpoint while reporting for CNN from Beirut, Collings has shared an Emmy for his reporting on the Oklahoma City bombing.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

It's no surprise that Collings earned his credentials as a reporter for Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, and CNN and eventually won an Emmy for his reports on the Oklahoma City bombing. This groundbreaking account is told with an immediacy that could only have come from a reporter skilled in the techniques of "guerrilla" journalism. Here, he shares the courageous stories of the men and women who bring us the news from the frontlines of our global hot spots. The commitment Collings shares with the journalists he profiles is awe-inspiring, and the life-threatening risks that they take to maintain the ideals of a free press will shatter the skepticism with which most Americans view our media. Journalists can be assassinated (34 in 1999), imprisoned, tortured, and held hostage, and many jeopardize their careers and comfort for their determined refusal to be censored. Collings's extensive notes and bibliography provide further evidence that the fight to maintain and preserve a free and unbiased press is universal. Recommended for all journalism collections and libraries supporting interest in contemporary world events. Denise S. Sticha, Murrysville Community Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this well written book, Collings (Univ. of Michigan and former Newsweek correspondent) explores contemporary governmental repression of journalists on a global scale. He divides the volume into four sections, providing miniprofiles of courageous journalists who challenged authority; six genres of news stories that led to governmental confrontation; strategies (in addition to censorship) governments use to repress the news media; and information about how journalists constructively contest. The journalistic profiles include examples from Mexico, Russia, and Nigeria; each details the motivations of journalists who risked their or their family's welfare to report routine news or investigative stories. An impressive chapter details an array of new legal and economic pressures some international governments use to silence news organizations and individual journalists. Collings emphasizes how news repression spreads if it is not actively defied by news organizations and international diplomatic pressure. The book appears to have been written before the events of 9/11, so special international and national press restrictions since September 11 are not discussed. An excellent companion to Web sites of organizations that provide ongoing coverage of international journalism freedoms, including Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Press Institute , this book is recommended for undergraduate, technical, professional, and general journalism collections. R. A. Logan University of Missouri--Columbia

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Map: World Press Freedomp. xii
Introductionp. 1
I Looking for Trouble: The Behavior of Independent Journalists
1 "They Are the News": Facing Mexican Druglordsp. 13
2 She Had to Be There: Taking Risks in Russiap. 26
3 Opening the Door: Courage in Asiap. 36
4 Guerrilla Journalists: Underground in Nigeriap. 44
5 A Precious Pen: Defiance around the Worldp. 53
II Pushing the Envelope: Stories That Trigger Attack
6 The General's Mercedes: Crime and Corruptionp. 65
7 A Veiled Woman: The Separatistsp. 77
8 Brother against Brother: Civil Warp. 89
9 In the Thick of It: Protests and Riotsp. 99
10 Money at Stake: Economic Secretsp. 105
11 The President's Mistress: Exposesp. 113
12 We Are Not Amused: Satirep. 120
III Shoot the Messenger: Types of Attacks on Journalists
13 We Have Ways: Violence and Imprisonmentp. 135
14 We Have Other Ways: Legal and Economic Pressuresp. 142
IV The Messenger Reacts: Responding to Attacks
15 Chilled or Defiant: The Painful Choicep. 153
16 Cat and Computer Mouse: Using the Internetp. 167
17 The Great Firewall: China and the Internetp. 186
18 Send in Uncle Walter: Advocacy Groupsp. 195
Conclusion: Tomorrow's News: The Outlookp. 210
Notesp. 225
Bibliographyp. 253
Indexp. 255
About the Authorp. 269