Miami (February 23, 2022) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed concern over the murder of another journalist in the course of his work. The organization asked the media to create or activate safety protocols to protect journalists in high-risk coverage.
On February 22, reporter Dylan Lyons and photojournalist Jesse Walden of Spectrum News 13 in Orlando, Florida, were covering the murder of a woman. According to the police, the alleged perpetrator returned to the scene and shot the journalists in their vehicle. Both reporters were transported to a hospital. Lyons died a few hours later, and Walden was in critical condition. The attacker was arrested but previously killed a young girl and critically wounded her mother.
Lyons' murder follows the murder of investigative journalist Jeff German of the Las Vegas Review-Journal in Las Vegas on September 3, 2022. A local official is charged with the crime he committed in retaliation for the journalist's investigation.
IAPA President Michael Greenspon said the cases of Lyons and German and numerous journalists who were assaulted during public demonstrations in recent years "are clear examples that American journalists are also exposed to violence."
Greenspon, global director of Print Licensing and Innovation for The New York Times, USA, urged media outlets "to create or activate safety protocols to prevent violent incidents."
The chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Carlos Jornet, agreed with Greenspon. "This case shows us that no country on the continent is immune to violence." Jornet, the editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, said: "We should not expect the state to be solely responsible for the safety of journalists; it is also the responsibility of the media to provide them with the necessary tools for protection."
Years earlier, IAPA had requested the implementation of security protocols when on June 28, 2018, a man burst into the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. The criminal shooter killed journalists Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters,Gerald Fischman and John McNamara, and Rebecca Smith, from the Advertising department, in retaliation for information published seven years earlier. The IAPA also recorded that 30 journalists were assaulted from January to October 2022, in some cases while covering protests. Fifteen journalists were arrested that year.
The latest IAPA Chapultepec Index report ranks the United States number seven out of 22 countries in the Americas in terms of press freedom. According to the Index, the violence experienced by journalists in the United States "usually occurs during coverage of protests" and "can also come from political groups and individual incidents associated with common crime."
IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.