Austin Tice, a Georgetown University law
student and freelance journalist, who contributed to The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers, and other media sources, has not been heard from since his last tweet came after August 11. The former Marine went to Syria for several months to cover the brutal civil war.
According to The Miami Herald, Austin entered Syria in May and traveled to the center of the country while reporting about the conflict before arriving in Damascus in July 2012. The 31-year-old journalist planned on leaving Syria in the middle of August, but probably had a difficult time reaching the boarder because of the intensified fighting between rebel soldiers and President Bashar al-Assad's loyal troops.
Austin's father, Marc, has been very positive since his son lost communication with his colleagues. On August 23, 2012, Marc told The Associated Press, “It's not uncommon for various journalists moving in and about Syria to be out of communication. We're very hopeful that that is what is happening.”
The Washington Post stated that Austin has contributed “more than a dozen articles to McClatchy, which owns 30 U.S. newspapers.” The former marine also submitted three articles to The Washington post, which they published. Austin “also contributed reports for CBS News, al-Jazeera English, the Agence France-Presse news agency and the McClatchy-Tribune Photo Service.”
The Post's executive editor, Marcus Brauchli, praised Austin as a brave journalist “whose work has helped to shape the world's understanding of this humanitarian and political crisis.” The executive editor also expressed his deep concern over the whereabouts of his colleague. He said he was distressed over Austin's safety and added that The Post is concentrating on locating and ensuring the journalist safe return to the United States.
McClatchy vice president for news, Anders Gyllenhaal, was also saddened over the whereabouts of Austin. The vice president said in a statement that the company is very worried about Austin's safety and has reached out to the State Department to ensure the journalist safe return home. Gyllenhaal continued to say “Journalists like Austin take risks every day to deliver the news to the rest of the world. Austin's reporting on the events in Syria has been particularly powerful and revealing — a reminder of why this work is so vital.”
Perhaps Austin's parents, Marc and Debra, understand their son's passion for journalism the best. They released a statement, which was published in The Miami Herald, from their Huston home. “We understand Austin's passion to report on the struggle in Syria, and are proud of the work he is doing there. We trust that he is safe, appreciate every effort being made to locate him, and look forward to hearing from him very soon.”
The Post reported that the U.S. Embassy in Damascus has halted their operations since February 2012. The newspaper claims that the United States interest will be represented by the Czech Embassy. Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department said officials “are working through our Czech protecting power in Syria to get more information on [Tice's] welfare and whereabouts, and we greatly appreciate the efforts of the Czech mission on behalf our citizens.”
Although reporting on the Syria civil war has been extremely difficult for journalist, who have been monitored by President Bashar al-Assad's forces, Austin used his military training to report on the Syrian government as well as the rebel soldiers throughout this intense conflict. The Miami Herald took a closer look at Austin's work as a journalist. They gave Austin credit for filing “one of the first detailed accounts of a battle between government forces and the guerrillas, and also wrote a piece examining the weaknesses of Syrian military tactics. Despite his close company with the rebel forces, Tice didn't shy away from pointing out their own apparent human rights violations, such as prisoner abuse and alleged executions.”
The Georgetown University law student was able to cover all of these elements of the civil war while communicating with his various contacts through Skype and e-mail. The Miami Harold pointed out that the bold journalist wasn't afraid to contact “Middle East experts and specialists on insurgent and jihadist movements.”
Austin was also active posting messages on his Facebook page. ABC World News said on July 25, the journalist told his readers, “It's nice and all, but please quit telling me to be safe.” Austin added that the United States has become “a fat, weak, complacent, coddled, unambitious and cowardly nation.”
To all of Austin's critics, who are probably thinking, “Why did the ex-Marine go to Syria and report on the civil war?” The journalist silenced his critics and gave his perspective on covering a civil war. He wrote, “I don't have a death wish — I have a life wish. So I'm living, in a place, at a time and with a people where life means more than anywhere I've ever been — because every single day people here lay down their own for the sake of others. Coming here to Syria is the greatest thing I've ever done, and it's the greatest feeling of my life.”
Austin is a very courageous reporter, who has first-hand experience in war zones. He led Marines while serving his country in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Georgetown University law student signed up with the Marines in 2005 and left the military in January 2012. He earned the rank of captain while fighting overseas.