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Killing Of Las Vegas Reporter Reflects Rising Perils to Journalists

Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German’s articles exposed alleged bullying and favoritism within Clark County’s government, and as he had expected, they had an immediate impact. His work contributed to the June election loss of Robert Telles, whose office oversaw the estates of people who died without estate plans. That was nothing extraordinary for German, who for decades had taken on police, judges, casino executives and mob bosses. That’s why German’s murder over Labor Day weekend, which police say was committed by the unimposing man German had been reporting on, resonated profoundly with the writer’s colleagues in Las Vegas and around the nation, the Los Angeles Times reports. A journalist had been murdered, apparently for speaking truth to power. It seemed to many in the news business to epitomize an increasingly perilous environment for their work. German, 69, loved to regale friends with the story of how a boxer he profiled punched him squarely in the nose. He figured that meant he’d already had his requisite brush with violence. “He was not afraid or fearful at all,” said Rhonda Prast, assistant managing editor for investigations and projects at the Review-Journal. Murders of journalists connected to their work remain a rarity in the U.S., compared with countries like Mexico, where 13 reporters have been killed since the start of the year. German’s stabbing death outside his home would make him the 12th U.S. journalist slain in the last 30 years in connection with their work, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Journalism trade groups report a significant increase in threats and violence directed at reporters. Newsrooms have stepped up their security markedly, with guards and metal detectors, while many more reporters and photographers now receive training in how to protect themselves during protests, school board meetings, and even once seemingly innocuous sidewalk interviews. “What I hear every day ... is a significant increase in threats and in a sense of permission that people feel to attack journalists,” said Bruce Shapiro of the DART Center for Journalism & Trauma at Columbia University. “We’re seeing far more threats and far more actual violence directed at local journalists, in particular.”

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