77 names added to fallen journalist memorial in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The names of 77 reporters, photographers and broadcasters were added to a memorial to honor slain journalists in the Newseum in Washington, D.C..

"These 77 individuals were brought together in a fellowship that none of them would have chosen, a fellowship created by their commitment, their courage and, ultimately, their sacrifice," said Chris Wells, vice president of the Freedom Forum, which runs the Newseum.

The Newseum Journalist's Memorial contains the names of 1,913 journalists dating back to 1837. Thirteen of the names added Monday were journalists killed in Iraq in 2008, which has been the most dangerous country for journalists since the Iraq War began in 2003.

Mexico was the second deadliest country for journalists last year, with five journalists being killed due to drug violence. According to Newseum records, Mexico had not been so dangerous for journalists in at least five years.

Among the slain journalists in Mexico was Armando Rodriguez, a reporter who covered crime along the border of El Paso, Texas, for 10 years. He was shot to death in his driveway while sitting in his car with his eight-year-old daughter.

"These murders strike at the heart of democracy by silencing speech and by depriving a community of the information it needs to conduct its affairs," said Newseum chairman Alberto Ibarguen.

The Newseum, a journalism museum in Washington, D.C..

Another was Magomed Yevloyev, who ran the independent Russian news site Ingushetia.org, which the Russian government tried to shut down. Yevloyev was shot while in police custody; authorities said he tried to take an officer's weapon.

Some of the journalists added to the memorial were killed in accidents, rather than murders or war zones. Tom Borrelli, a sports writer for The Buffalo News, died after falling down a set of metal stairs at a high school football stadium and landing on his head.

"I hate more than anything that it had to come to this, but it did come to this," said Borelli's widow, Karen. "And the honor is just tremendous. He would say he didn't deserve it, but he did."

Steven Shoob, a broadcaster with WTOC-TV in Georgia, was also added to the memorial. Shoob was struck by a car while covering an accident story in Savannah in July 2008.

Among the new names, 62 journalists were killed in 2008 and 15 were killed in prior years, including Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter Sarah Park, who died in 1957 in a small plane crash while covering a tsunami.

The name of the youngest journalist on the memorial was added Monday. Ryan Rendleman, 22, of the Daily Egyptian of Southern Illinois University Carbondale who died in April 2008 when a tractor-trailer hit his parked car while he was on assignment.