The beheading of American journalist in Syria was tragic news. James Foley’s story, although horrific, also serves as a reminder of the important work a journalist does. At least 69 have been killed in the conflict in Syria, including some who died over the border, which is believed to be the deadliest country in the world due to the ongoing civil war.

Among other political, religious and personal reasons, this is an attempt to silence the media. In the last 12 years, data suggests, journalists have been the target of hate crimes, kidnapping, imprisonment, torture and death worldwide. These groups of extremists use these measures as examples to deter journalists reporting the truth around the world. Knowledge is power, and the hunger for power grows.

Since 1992 at least 1070 reporters and media workers have died. Last year at least 200 were jailed, and there is believed to be many more incarcerated around the world. Reporters missing from countries such as Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Iraq, Russia, Mexico and Phillipines have been killed or yet to be found. This is a mere estimation of facts and figures from the CPU, Committee to Protect Journalists. To be exact would be almost impossible under the circumstances and the number of deaths and missing is on the increase.

These figures give an idea of the heroism of journalists who put themselves in enormous danger for their work. Armed only with a note pad, a camera, and a huge dose of courage. These brave men and women risk their lives to enter war zones around the world, to report for us, the people.

As with military forces, those who return home safe and uninjured are very fortunate. Although, they carry forever the vision of war, attrocities witnessed as well as the loss of fellow journalists and friends. No matter what strength or courage they behold, these people would be changed.

With all due respect to the defence force, I believe the journalists who put their lives on the line deserve respect also. We, the people and our governments should, in some way, show some true recognition and appreciation of their work, their heart and their commitment. A medal of honour perhaps?