Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. In the last three years at least 60 of them have been killed while covering the conflict there, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Missing from the statistics is anything about the kind of journalist who goes to Syria and why. After the death of Marie Colvin, in a blizzard of Syrian Army shells in Homs in February 2012, much of the Western media drew back from covering the country. Meanwhile, a lightly resourced, laughably paid, almost wholly uninsured cadre of freelancers, often armed with little more than a notebook and a mobile phone, infiltrated Syria anyway. A few were crazy narcissists or war-zone tourists, but most were serious reporters. Four-fifths of all journalists working in Syria, according to one estimate, are freelance and answering to no one but themselves.

Austin Tice was one of these. So was I. Our paths had even crossed. Three weeks before he disappeared, while cooling my heels in the Turkish border town of Antakya, waiting for someone to take me into Syria, I’d asked my hosts at a Free Syrian Army safe house whether any Western journalists had passed this way before. Just one, they said—an American named Austin who had stayed with them for a week. They kept in touch with him on Facebook—he was still inside.

— From a Vanity Fair story on journalists who’ve gone missing in Syria. Reporter Austin Tice, a former U.S. marine who was writing for The Washington Post and other publications, went missing in Syria two years ago today. Tice’s parents write: “Austin, please know that we love and miss you more than words can say.”

Read the story

— Watch a documentary on Tice produced and released by McClatchy Newspapers on the anniversary of his kidnapping:


Photo: Tice Family/a>