The Spy in Your Pocket: Mobile Journalism's Risk

In the days after Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik died in the Syrian city of Homs in 2012, fellow conflict reporters speculated on the role that satellite phones might have played. Colvin and Ochlik were working from a makeshift media center that was precisely targeted by rockets. Had the killers hunted them down using signals from the very phones with which the journalists reported their stories? The risks of working in a war zone were familiar, but the apparent dangers of using a telecommunications device common among foreign correspondents represented a new uncertainty. Experienced journalists struggled to understand what the technology could reveal about their locations, and to grasp the possibility--raised by Libération journalist Jean-Pierre Perrin, who had been with Colvin in Homs--that Colvin and Ochlik were singled out by the Syrian army precisely for their ability to transmit news from a city deliberately denied communication links.