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Richard Engel Missing in Syria: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know

According to Turkish news reports, Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC news has gone missing in Syria, along with Aziz Akyavaş, a journalist working with the American reporter. Here’s what we know so far about missing Richard Engel.

1. Richard Engel has been NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Since 2008

Richard Engel has been known for reporting on the topics of wars, revolutions and political transitions around the world for the last 15 years. He was assigned the position of chief foreign correspondent by NBC in 2008 from the network’s Middle Eastern correspondent. Prior to joining NBC news in 2003, he covered the start of the war in Iraq from Baghdad for ABC News as a freelance journalist.

2. He Last Reported from Inside Syria on Dec. 11

3. Aziz Akyavaş is a Cameraman Working with Engel

Cameraman Aziz Akyavaş, who is also missing, was working with Engel at the time of their disappearance. He has experience covering war zones in all parts of the world since the 1980s.

4. Engel Hasn’t Been in Contact with NBC since Thursday Morning

5. The News is Being Widely Reported in the Turkish Press
The news of the disappearance of the two correspondents has been widely reported in the Turkish press such as the Hürriyet over the last 24 hours.

6. Also on Twitter

7. NBC Unsuccessfully Tried Enforcing a News Blackout

NBC requested for American media to operate under a news blackout regarding the issue of Engel’s disappearance until today. A news blackout is the censorship of news regarding a certain topic for a certain reason. Some argued with the outlets reporting the news of the disappearance saying that NBC’s request should be respected for the safety of Engel for the fear that he might be harmed if the news broke. A similar situation transpired when New York Times reporter David Rohde was kidnapped in 2008 when a blackout was maintained for several months at the request of the militants holding the reporter.

8. Gawker Posted a Rationale for Reporting Despite the Blackout
John Cook at Gawker posted a response to the criticism for reporting despite the news blackout:

The rationale for the blackout was offered in off-the-record conversations, so I can’t present their argument here. But I will say this: No one told me anything that indicated a specific, or even general, threat to Engel’s safety. No one said, ‘If you report this, then we know, or suspect, that X, Y, or Z may happen.’ It was infinitely more vague and general than that.

As I wrote in the post, when the New York Times maintained a blackout about David Rohde, the rationale was clear: I was directly told that the Times had reason to believe that the people who had Rohde would harm him if news got out. There was nothing approaching that level of specificity or argumentation here. I would not have written a post if someone had told me that there was a reasonable or even remote suspicion that anything specific would happen if I wrote the post.

Also: There was in practice no blackout. Xinhua and Breitbart had published English language accounts. There were probably like 100 posts to Twitter per minute about him. This was a situation where the information was freely available on the internet, and in the region—these are large Turkish outlets reporting this information. It was out.

9. Engel has Won Numerous Awards for his Reporting

The foreign reporter was most recently recognized for his coverage of the 2011 revolution in Egypt, the conflict in Libya and the unrest throughout the Arab world. He’s also received five News & Documentary Emmy Awards, a Gracie Award, the George Foster Peabody Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award and the Society of Professional Journalism Award.

10. He’s Lived in the Middle East since 1996
Engel graduated from Stanford University in 1996 and left for Cairo, Egypt because he felt that the region was where the news was at. There in the Middle East, he worked as a freelance news reporter until he was offered a job with NBC.

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