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Broadsheets back Sunday Times decision to decline Syria freelance pics

By William Turvill

Broadsheet newspapers have backed The Sunday Times’ decision not to accept freelance submissions from Syria.

Press Gazette revealed this month that the News International title had told a photographer they did not accept speculativelyu submitted pictures from the Syria war zone because they did not “wish to encourage freelancers to take exceptional risks”.

After submitting pictures from Aleppo Rick Findler was told by the foreign desk that “it looks like you have done some exceptional work” but “we have a policy of not taking copy from Syria as we believe the dangers of operating there are too great”.

And now The Times, Guardian, Observer and Independent have each revealed that they have similar policies. No other newspapers asked had responded to Press Gazette’s enquiries at the time of publication.

A Guardian and Observer spokesperson said: “As a general rule we do not take uncommissioned freelance copy from people in Syria.

“We do occasionally use freelance photographers, but only once we have checked their experience and credentials, and we give them any protections we can in terms of insurance and risk assessment.”

Times foreign editor Richard Beeston told Press Gazette it is his newspaper's general policy to run copy and photograpghs from Syria by staff correspondents and photographers on assignment.

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He said that all staff sent out will have been signed off by the editor, had hostile environment training and be sent with safety and communications equipment.

Despite the freelance ban The Sunday Times still regularly devotes staff resources to reporting from Syria. Last week, for example, Marie Colvin’s close friend Hala Jaber returned to the war-torn country a year after the former Sunday Times was reporter was killed (£)

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