The overwhelming majority of messages I got in response to Peter Bouckaert's call for an email campaign were critical of Gawker's decision not to honor the Richard Engel media blackout. But not all of them. Somalia Report publisher Robert Young Pelton, a longtime freelance reporter, wrote me to alert me to Bouckaert's campaign and to tell me that "having been kidnapped and involved in dozens of corporate bungled kidnaps, I can say there is no evidence that keeping things quiet does anything than protect the corporate image and pocketbook." Pelton is has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Somalia, Chechnya, and elsewhere. He was the first American to discover an injured John Walker Lindh and interview him near Mazār-e Sharīf. Pelton was kidnapped and held for ten days in 2003 by a right-wing Colombian paramilitary group. I asked him to put his thoughts into a longer email.
When we published reports on Monday that Richard Engel and his crew had gone missing in Syria, it was over the objections of Engel's employer NBC News, which had been trying to enforce a media blackout on Engel's situation. That was an unpopular decision in some quarters, and it sparked a discussion on the Vulture Club, a Facebook group focusing on war-zone reporting moderated a Human Rights Watch staffer named Peter Bouckaert. Bouckaert urged Vulture Club members to email me and ask me to take the Engel post down. Below are some of their notes.